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CCF Volunteer Program

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Volunteer Spotlight - John McDonald

John McDonald with his late wife, Michelle, a cholangiocarcinoma warrior.

John McDonald sat in the doctor’s office for a routine physical and had his tipping point moment, just a few short months after he had lost his wife, Michelle, to cholangiocarcinoma. During that appointment, he learned one of the doctor’s staff had also been recently diagnosed with the same cancer. As he shared his thoughts about a fundraiser and brainstormed during the appointment, he knew immediately he shouldn’t take no for an answer.

John grew up in Austin, Texas and his parents had deep roots not far away in Taylor, Texas. The small town of Taylor was a perfect place to raise a family. It was there Michelle taught hundreds of people as a fitness instructor. Her warm and friendly personality quickly turned people into “peeps” because she made friends so easily. She and John married in January of 2017, and six weeks later they learned of Michelle’s diagnosis. She passed away at only 47 years old.

As John and his oldest daughter Carrie sat down to write Michelle’s obituary, they learned of the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation (CCF). Michelle had been through four ERCP surgeries, an inconclusive biopsy, and ascites treatments before they even knew if a resection was possible. No one had mentioned genomic testing. He could not ask questions about cholangiocarcinoma, when neither of them even knew what to ask. He has since attended two of CCF’s Annual Conferences. John is passionate about helping other patients get educated about the disease. Funding research for early detection is John’s goal.

John had never run a 5K, much less organize one, but shares that God’s hand was in the process. August 10, 2019 marked the second annual “Michelle’s Hot Peeps Beat CC” 5K and Fun Run event in Taylor, TX with all proceeds benefiting CCF. Michelle’s peeps ran for her and all the warriors. John says his volunteer fundraising efforts are his way of doing something for Michelle. Just because he didn’t know of resources during Michelle’s treatment, doesn’t mean he can’t help now. What he has learned, he wishes could have helped Michelle, but he works to help educate others in her honor. John continues to spread awareness about the Mutations Matter program, and has sought help from his local state representatives to seek support and additional funding.

It is a great honor and privilege to recognize John McDonald as Volunteer of the Month!

New Volunteer Opportunities

Cindy Thomas is the Foundation's Volunteer Coordinator.

Cindy received a Bachelor of Science degree from Brigham Young University and has enjoyed working with the Foundation since June of 2018 as a part time staff member.

If you have any questions regarding the Foundation's volunteer programs, please contact Cindy at cindy.thomas@cholangiocarcinoma.org.

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