Kimberly Tripp was 12 years old when her grandmother died of gastrointestinal cancer. The loss of the person she most admired led her to a career in health care and, eventually, to MD Anderson.
"My first position here was as a post-op surgical nurse on the GI floor," says Tripp, currently administrative director of Acute Care Services. "I ended up taking care of these very same patients."
She eventually became a research nurse in the Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology, where she worked with colorectal and pancreatic cancer patients. About the same time (in 2002), Cathy Eng, M.D., associate professor, joined GI Medical Oncology, and Tripp began working on a number of her colorectal cancer trials.
A stroll through a "colon"
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer in men and women and the second leading cause of cancer death. However, colorectal cancer, relative to other malignancies, is a preventable cancer. In 2003, Tripp's nurse manager asked her, along with a colleague, to plan an event to educate the public and build awareness of the importance of getting a colorectal screening.
Tripp laughs as she recalls the make-shift colon constructed for the event, which was held along the Rotary House hotel skybridge at MD Anderson.
"It was an archway covered with cloth. We painted it and added red lights that were supposed to be the polyps," Tripp says. Educational materials were placed throughout the "colon."
The next year, the American Cancer Society arranged for Polyp Man to attend the event. That year, Endoscopy also displayed a clean scope for visitors to become familiar with a colorectal screening.
The "stroll" becomes a 5K
At a brainstorming session for the 2005 event, Eng proposed a 5K, a recommendation made by one of her colorectal cancer patients, a marathoner. So the SCOPE (Sprint for Colorectal Oncology Prevention and Education) 5K was borne with fewer than six months to prepare for it.
"We didn't really know what we were doing. I think it was October and we decided we were going to do this in March. The first time we got any kind of funding was December," Tripp recalls.
Now, in its seventh year, SCOPE will take place at 8:00 a.m., Saturday, March 24, at the intersection of Pressler Street and Bertner Avenue in the Texas Medical Center. More than 1,500 walkers and runners are expected for the event, which continues to focus on the importance of colorectal screening.
Although Tripp no longer works in GI Medical Oncology, she continues to help because of her personal experience, our patients and survivors.
"Sometimes, people are baffled when they find out I still organize the SCOPE 5K, although I'm no longer with the GI department nor do I provide direct patient care," Tripp says.
"But, I believe it's part of the reason I came to MD Anderson as a nurse, and it motivates me as an administrator. It is rewarding work and I know my grandmother would be proud."
If you'd like to walk or run, visit the MD Anderson SCOPE registration page.