As I was in full preparation mode at a work event, I heard my text alert go off as it often does right in the middle of my busiest moments, BUT this time what I read literally stopped me in my tracks…it was from John. “Just got a call from the doctor. I will be seeing an oncologist for treatment options for Stage 3 Colon Cancer.” I was numb, what did I just read? How is this possible? In the chain of subsequent text messages among our parents and my other siblings in true John form he responded, “just an unwanted speed bump which I rarely slow down for them.” As all who knew him or knew of him and followed his 3-year battle he never did slow down. With my mom and sister being breast cancer survivors, it was a given I was not missing my yearly mammogram, but never once did it cross my mind that I should have my colonoscopy early due to John’s diagnosis until he began the #CheckIt4Andretti campaign. WHY? I thought colon cancer was an old man’s disease, John was just unlucky, it is not hereditary, you have to have symptoms…I could go on and on. As his movement continued to gain momentum over the next few months, I learned more about the risks and I was at the age where it was recommended that I too go in for a colonoscopy, however my insurance company felt differently. After four long weeks of exhausting phone calls between my insurance company and my doctor’s office I threw up my white flag and gave in and paid to have mine done with the coverage I had, it was too important I have three small boys who need me and for anyone that listened to John when he spoke he always said don’t do it for you, do it for those that love you. John saved my life – at age 42 I had 5 precancerous polyps in 5 different areas of my colon and the doctor said to me, “today I get to tell you to come back in 3 years for your next colonoscopy had you waited until you were 50 if you made it to 50 this would have been a very different conversation” and right then and there is when I knew I had to join John’s fight and the #CheckIt4Andretti mission to raise awareness on the preventative nature of a colonoscopy. Now in his honor, I will continue that fight with his wife Nancy and their children to also provide those who cannot throw up the white flag like I was able and provide colonoscopies to those who are unable to afford it. Who do I check it for? I check it for John, I check it for my husband Bobby and my three boys Dylan, Kasey and Jayce and I will work hard so that you can check it too!
My love of auto racing was sparked when Mario Andretti signed a napkin for me when I was just two-years-old. Until this year, I have never missed an Indy 500 and have sat through rain, heat, tornados, and two pregnancies to watch my favorite sport. That signature from Mario has made me a lifelong fan of the entire Andretti family, who I have always admired for their hard work, perseverance, and speed. Although I now live in Chicago, I grew up in Indianapolis, and autosports was a huge part of my upbringing. One day as I was driving “back home again” for the Do It Best Hardware Market (where I work with wonderful retailers like Pat Sullivan of Sullivan Hardware!), John and Michael Andretti were on my favorite radio station, WIBC. Their familiar voices brought me comfort, but what they were discussing was… much less comforting. John was encouraging his cousin to get a colonoscopy, and I knew something wasn’t right. It dawned on me that John had colorectal cancer, and tears welled up in my eyes. He pitched a challenge for his family members, friends, and fans to “#CheckIt4Andretti.” It took some time, but I finally convinced my husband that he and I needed to #CheckIt4Andretti. I had gotten a colonoscopy 15 years earlier, and worked all those years to convince my husband it was no big deal. However, the interrogation I got from my doctor after I awakened from my procedure this past fall made me feel like maybe this time, it was a big deal. My doctor found a lesion, and after an agonizing week, we were told that it was a cancerous tumor. I was absolutely horrified, but I made follow up appointments with oncologists, radiologists, and more, to make sure we were doing all the right things to get past this. My oncologist told me that I was so lucky to have caught my cancer early, before it spread, and that it typically responded well and should be cured with the right treatments. I was scared then, and I am nervous now, two weeks after finishing my 6-week IV chemotherapy, plus daily radiation and chemo pill regimen. However, in all likelihood my cancer is gone for good and I’ll be able to get back to the normal (well, pandemic “normal”) swing of things in no time. Without the inspiration of John’s campaign, and the attitude, bravery, and candor he always showed, I don’t know that I would have been motivated to CheckIt4Andretti, and I am so grateful to him and the entire Andretti family for encouraging us fans to take care of ourselves. I have been a lifelong fan of the entire family, and it probably saved my life. I want to double down on his mission, and will hopefully be sharing #CheckIt4Andretti with my own friends and family for many years to come.
CheckIt4Andretti, Northeast Digestive rev up colorectal cancer battle with plan to give diagnostic screenings to high-risk, low-income group
Efforts of racing legend’s foundation improve chances of early detection, survival
CONCORD, N.C. (March 15, 2022) – Since his tragic death from colorectal cancer in January 2020, John Andretti’s family has been honoring the racing legend’s legacy both on and off the track.
As son Jarett Andretti prepares to compete in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts this week, the CheckIt4Andretti Charitable Foundation is revving up efforts to promote early detection of colorectal cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.
Through a new partnership finalized last week between the foundation and Northeast Digestive Health Center in Concord, selected low-income patients from a Salisbury medical clinic that serves the uninsured and underinsured will receive colonoscopies free of charge.
“The potential to save lives through early detection of colorectal cancer is enormous,” said Nancy Andretti, founder and president of CheckIt4Andretti. “We are grateful to Northeast Digestive Health Center for helping CheckIt4Andretti fulfill our mission of making these screenings available to those who need but can’t afford them.”
Nancy Andretti, Jarett’s mother and John’s wife of 32 years, established the foundation following John’s death to promote the importance of early detection and provide free screenings for high-risk, low-income people who are uninsured, underinsured or too young to qualify for insurance coverage.
She forged the partnership with Northeast Digestive Health Center through her relationship with Dr. Vinay Patel, her own gastroenterologist at the center. The foundation is working to secure additional partnerships in North Carolina and Indiana, where Jarett lives and where the family’s racing heritage has deep roots.
“CheckIt4Andretti has found the perfect focus for its mission because low-income individuals are much less likely to have access to diagnostic screenings,” Patel said. “Northeast Digestive Health Center thanks Nancy Andretti and the foundation for the opportunity to save lives and honor John’s legacy at the same time.”
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and is also the birth month of John Andretti, who would have turned 59 March 12. More than 50,000 Americans are expected to die this year from colorectal cancer, which trails only lung cancer as the deadliest form of cancer.
John Andretti won races in open-wheel, sports car and stock car series in a career that spanned 25 years. Andretti didn’t receive his first colonoscopy until the age of 52, when his cancer was diagnosed.
Based on new guidance from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the American Cancer Society in 2021 lowered its recommended age to begin regular colorectal cancer screenings to 45 years old from 50 previously.
“I hope my father will be remembered for using his own diagnosis to shine a spotlight on the importance of early detection,” said Jarett Andretti. “And I hope other providers will follow the compassionate lead of Dr. Patel and his team at Northeast Digestive Health Center to help us expand access to potentially life-saving cancer checks.”
CheckIt4Andretti worked with the North Carolina Association of Free and Charitable Clinics to identify high-risk, low-income patients served by one of the organization’s member clinics – the Community Care Clinic of Rowan County in Salisbury – who will be receiving the screening procedure.
“Free and charitable clinics are committed to expanding access to quality health care for the uninsured,” said Randy Jordan, CEO of the North Carolina Association of Free and Charitable Clinics. “We are indebted to partners like CheckIt4Andretti and Northeast Digestive Health Center who help make it happen where the rubber meets the road.”
The association hopes to work with CheckIt4Andretti to find additional health care providers to make more colorectal screenings available to patients of its member clinics across the state, Jordan said.
The association’s 73 member clinics deliver a full range of services, including primary and specialty medical care, dental care, behavioral health services, pharmacy service, and hospital referrals to nearly 80,000 uninsured or underinsured people in 88 North Carolina counties, in most cases at no cost to the patient.
About The CheckIt4Andretti Charitable Foundation Inc.
The CheckIt4Andretti Charitable Foundation’s mission is to save lives by increasing awareness of the importance of screenings in the prevention and early detection of colorectal cancer, and by providing funding to high risk, low-income patients who are uninsured, underinsured, or too young for insurance to cover the cost of screening. The foundation was established in 2020 in memory of motorsports figure John Andretti, who died of colon cancer Jan. 30, 2020. For more information, please visit www.checkit4andretti.org.
About Northeast Digestive Health Center
Northeast Digestive Health Center, based in Concord, North Carolina, is a leader in the digestive health field, providing a full range of services and procedures to diagnose and treat a variety of digestive conditions. With three office locations and four endoscopy centers and a staff of 11 board-certified gastroenterologists and six physician assistants, Northeast Digestive Health Center offers comprehensive and cost-effective care for individuals with conditions affecting the digestive tract, liver, pancreas and biliary tree. For more information, please visit www.northeastdigestive.com.
About North Carolina Association of Free and Charitable Clinics
The North Carolina Association of Free and Charitable Clinics supports 73 member clinics in expanding access to health care, reducing health disparities and improving the health of uninsured and underinsured individuals. Member clinics are a vital part of North Carolina’s safety net, providing care for 80,000 patients in 88 counties, including primary and specialty medical care; dental care; pharmacy services; optometry; behavioral health care; lab tests and hospital referrals. The association supports member clinics with education, advocacy, research, funding and collaboration, and promotes quality health care for all North Carolinians. Learn more at www.ncafcc.org.
Media: David Coburn at Coburn Communications, email@example.com, 704.408.4276
|We want to thank everyone who showed up to DC Prime to support CheckIt4Andretti. Although the weather hampered the event, it was a huge success that supported a much-needed cause. Many beautiful cars showed up and showed their “Bling”. Our judges, including professional driver Jarett Andretti, awarded prizes for the “Best in Show”. Between the raffle and DC Prime’s “Round-up”, during dinner, we raised over $3000.00 for the event.
A special thanks to New German Performance for bringing out the Audi R18 LMP1 and Audi RS3 LMS TCR car for all to see and touch.
CheckIt4Andretti’s mission is to save lives by increasing awareness of the importance of screenings in the prevention and early detection of colorectal cancer, and by providing funding to high risk, low income patients who are uninsured, underinsured, or too young for insurance to cover the cost of screening.
We appreciate all who participated in the event and look forward growing this event for years to come.
I didn’t get my first colonoscopy until the age of 56. Fear of the unknown. But my husband and I are big USAC, & especially The Andretti’s fans. John was my motivation to get my first colonoscopy. I had no polyps, what a blessing. There is nothing scary about a colonoscopy, it is worth all the prep, etc. #CheckIt4Andretti!
Colorectal cancer is a cancer that is found in the colon and rectum that begins with polyps found in the lining of the colon and rectum.
Colorectal cancer’s causes are unknown but there are risks that are inherited and come from different lifestyle factors. Smoking, lack of exercise, and obesity may place someone at larger risk for colorectal cancer. Genetic factors could increase a person’s susceptibility to the disease.