LAKE MARY, Fla. – When Tasha Hurst was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in 2018 her life changed forever.
Suddenly work wasn’t so important. Her health and family took priority.
Through surgeries and treatments, she still felt the need to keep busy and find purpose. So she’s spent part of her time doing what she always has, organizing, promoting and leading.
She started an annual fundraising event called Put Your Rear In Gear.
Hurst has gotten results, she’s raised nearly $30,000 for the Colorectal Cancer Alliance.
“I miss working. Before I had cancer I was in a leadership role. So I feel like I have purpose by doing this,” Hurst said. “I just want people to get screened. It drives me. I’m driven by the cause.”
After months of planning, Hurst welcomed hundreds of supporters to the 4th Street Bar & Grill in Lake Mary on March 26.
“It hasn’t been easy,” Hurst said. “I do chemo every other week. I’ve been battling cancer for four years.”
A silent auction, music and games drew people in from the park and surrounding shopping district.
“It’s great because after the event I get calls and emails from people saying ‘I have my colonoscopy scheduled, I got screened. Thank you,” Hurst said, as she sat on a barstool greeting friends and family.
Mia Kern volunteered to help sell bingo cards. Kern made her way through the crowd pitching the game and collecting donations.
“You’re going to scream booty instead of bingo,” she said with a laugh.
Kern and Hurst were neighbors, the two have been friends for nearly 20 years.
“I think she’s great,” Kern said. “She’s really impacted me. I’ve gone and gotten my colonoscopy.”
And that’s the point. Hurst is part of a growing number of people under 50 being diagnosed with the disease.
“I really encourage people to listen to their bodies,” Hurst said. “You know, it’s the colon — it’s not the most attractive thing to talk about.”
Chelsea Edwards, Senior Director for Peer to Peer Giving with The Colorectal Cancer Alliance agrees.
“People are dying because we don’t want to talk about it. That’s why it’s so important that she’s telling her story,” Edwards said.
The Colorectal Cancer Alliance calls Hurst one of their “DIYnamos,” a volunteer who has been directly impacted by the disease and who raises donations and awareness. Edwards said the money will be used for research and to help fund early screening for those who are underinsured.
“They’re going through hell,” Edwards said of the DIYnamo volunteers. “We’re so appreciative of what she’s doing. Her energy, she just has such positive energy.”
That energy prompted Terry Marshall to send us an email. Marshall and Hurst are engaged.
“She’s going above and beyond,” Marshall said, adding that Hurst has done all the planning and organizing between treatments. “I always say, Tasha is the healthiest sick person you’d ever know. It’s a testament to how strong a person she is.”
It was announced at the event that Hurst will get a two-month break from chemotherapy. The couple plan to travel during that time.
“We know that we can’t change what going on,” Marshall said. “But we can’t have that dictate how she lives.”
As Hurst spent the day surrounded by friends and family. She reflected on the scene around her.
“I just feel truly blessed. All these people are here for the cause and to support me. I just love that. It makes it all worth it.