New Hyde Park resident Ray Catapano has no trouble recalling the day five years ago when he awoke from a colonoscopy and his doctor told him he had colon cancer.
“I nearly fainted,” Catapano said.
Now a fully recovered cancer survivor, Catapano will be among 20 of his family members and friends walking in a 5K walk/run at the 11th annual Colon Cancer Challenge at CitiField at noon on Sunday to raise funds to fight the disease he overcame.
“I just like to help out. Every year we get more people on our team,” Catapano said.
Catapano’s three adult sons, Tommy, Jimmy and Danny, his wife, Julie, his brother, Robert, his wife and their four kids are part of the family’s anti-colon cancer team this year, along with his younger sister Lauren.
“We’ve been touched by cancer multiple times and we’ve been lucky,” Lauren Catapano said. “We participate in these multiple events to raise money for cancer events.”
She said their mother, Joan, is a breast-cancer survivor and she regularly participates in fundraisers to battle breast cancer.
Lauren said the family has succeeded in drawing sponsors to help raise several thousand dollars at the colon cancer event over the past several years.
Her older brother said the Catapanos have been walking in the Colon Cancer Challenge as a family since he was diagnosed.
“I’m happy people are doing it and encourage friends to get a colonoscopy,” Catapano said
He said he had canceled three appointments for what was his to be his first colonoscopy at age 50.
Finally, he said, his gastroenterologist, Dr. Allen Ahdoot, of North Shore-LIJ Medical Center, insisted he undergo the examination.
After the procedure, Catapano said, Ahdoot told him he had discovered two masses but his prognosis was good since they had caught the cancer at an early stage.
Catapano underwent a colon resection at St. Francis Hospital in Port Washington one week later and he’s been cancer-free since then.
“Everything worked out great,” said Catapano, who said he has undergone colonoscopies and CAT scans on a regular basis since the surgery.
He said his recovery has enabled him to continue running the landscaping business he owns in New Hyde Park.
Lauren Catapano said the family’s goal at the March 23 Colon Cancer Challenge is to raise $1,000.
She said her brother’s case demonstrated that early detection is the key to survival.
“We’ve been really lucky,” she said.