Fishing for a cause

For Jason Meninger, fishing is not only a passion, it is something that he exceeds in. In fact he has been fishing professionally on the Walmart FLW Bass Fishing tour since 2010. Now, after his own cancer scare followed by his sister’s breast cancer diagnosis, Jason is graciously donating 20% of his earnings on the tour to the Young Women’s Breast Cancer Translational Program at the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

From the time he was a young boy Jason always wanted to be involved in the fishing world.

“I remember him telling us that he was going to be a professional fisherman starting at a very young age,” says Jill Gerow, Jason’s sister. “In 2010 his dream became a reality when he entered his inaugural year on the FLW Bass Fishing Tour.”

2010 also marked a time of shock for Jason. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer and needed surgery to remove the growth.

“He did not tell anyone until he was on the way to the hospital for the surgery,” says Jill. “The family could not believe it. Thankfully, the surgery was a complete success and there was no need for radiation or chemotherapy. He placed 41st in his first season on the tour and qualified for the prestigious Forrest Wood Cup Championship despite the diagnosis.”

In February of 2014 the Meninger family was shocked once again when it was discovered Jill had stage III breast cancer.

“I never saw it coming,” says Jill. “I had been going in for regular mammograms every year. I was surprised with how fast it had spread in such a short amount of time.”

Jill was referred to Virginia Borges, MD, at the University of Colorado Cancer Center shortly after her diagnosis. She met with Borges and the multidisciplinary clinic right away to decide the best course of treatment.

“When I heard I had cancer my first thought was ‘I am going to die’,” recalls Jill. “After I met with everyone at the multi-d clinic I felt so much better about my situation. Dr. Borges made me feel very calm and comfortable. It was then I realized how important it is to have someone guide you throughout the process.”

After two rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, Jill is doing very well.

Jill Gerow presents $10,000 check to Dr. Virginia Borges

Jill Gerow presents $10,000 check to Dr. Virginia Borges

“I am so happy about my experience at the CU Cancer Center,” says Jill. “When I told my brother about it, I never expected him to want to donate to the Young Women’s Breast Cancer Translational Program, but he was thrilled to do so.”

Jason donated $8,000 of his 2015 earnings on the FLW Tour to Dr. Borges’ under a program he calls “Casting for a Cure’”. He was also able to secure a $2000 matching gift for his earnings at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup Championship from the Zucker Family Foundation. Jill recently presented a $10,000 check to Dr. Borges on behalf of Jason and his “Casting for a Cure” drive.

“It is donations like this that allow us to start small research projects that may eventually turn into larger grants,” says Borges. “Without them it would be challenging to try new ideas in the lab that may turn into big advancements in the disease. We cannot tell you how much we appreciate Jason’s efforts.”

For Jason and Jill, the Borges lab was a perfect fit for their desire to contribute to cancer research.

“It is really nice to know that the money is going directly into local research,” says Jill. “It can be discouraging at times to donate to a large national institution when you have no idea where the money is really going. Dr. Borges is very good at letting us know how the money will be spent and what advancements may come from it.”

About the author: Taylor Abarca

Taylor Abarca (Bakemeyer) is the Social Media Web Specialist at the University of Colorado Cancer Center. Contact her at Taylor.Bakemeyer [at] ucdenver.edu.

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