Page Menu

Stage 4 cancer survivor Ben Herk on why he’s supporting the UMass Cancer Walk

Date Posted: Monday, May 20, 2024

Ben Herk with his two sons. Hi, I’m Ben. I’m excited to be supporting the UMass Cancer Walk for the first time this year. As a cancer survivor, this is deeply personal for me. I’m sure it is for many of you, too. 

Remember: All money raised will support cancer research and care, and clinical trials of new therapies right in Worcester at UMass Chan Medical School. I’m so grateful to all the scientists, like those at UMass Chan, who work tirelessly “behind the scenes” to help develop the therapies that are transforming cancer care and making this disease much more treatable. As patients, we don’t typically come face-to-face with these individuals, but they deserve our deepest gratitude. 

I was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer in January 2018. At this terrifying point in my life, I met my cancer care team at UMass Memorial Health. I knew right away that I was in good hands. I have been through many surgeries, tests and procedures. I simply cannot say enough great things about the wonderful people I have met and who have taken care of me. My cancer care team made me feel like I would not be fighting this disease alone and that I would get the best treatment possible. They also helped me get into the right mindset to tackle cancer. 

I’m happy to say that it’s been three years since I had surgery on my liver that removed the last traces of cancer in my body. Since then, all of my tests have shown no signs of the disease. 

I am deeply thankful to be healthy and able to enjoy life with my two boys, Nicholas, age 12, and Henry, age 10. I also love my job as a physical education teacher at Athol Community Elementary School. In fact, the wonderful students and staff there recently surprised me on National Dress in Blue Day, part of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March. I walked into school that day and was met with a sea of blue! I was incredibly moved by this show of support and inspired to pay it forward with a donation to the UMass Cancer Walk on their behalf. At the same time, I also want to show my gratitude to all the dedicated doctors, nurses and researchers who made my recovery possible. 

I hope that telling my story will inspire others to participate in the UMass Cancer Walk by registering to walk, making a donation or even starting a team. Together, we can make this year’s event a huge success. I wouldn’t be here today without the kind of critical, lifesaving research done at UMass Chan, and maybe someone you love also owes their life to recent medical breakthroughs. 

So come on, let’s help end cancer! 

Register today

Cancer survivors are invited to register for the UMass Cancer Walk presented by Harr Toyota. Survivors will receive a superhero cape and will be invited to walk a special survivor lap on Walk day.