Family helps grant mom’s final wishes
Erin Nutter is committed to raising awareness for colon cancer after the sudden loss of her mom to the disease.
Just a month after Chris Galant was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer in February 2017, she and her family participated in the “Don’t Sit on Colon Cancer 5K” race organized by Sentara.
Chris’ husband, Craig, pushed her in a wheelchair, and many family members and friends joined as part of Chris’ Crew, rallying around her and other families affected by colon cancer.
“To see all the families and teams participating in the race meant a lot,” said Erin, 28. “You never expect your family will be touched by colon cancer. We will continue to participate in honor of my mom and raise awareness for colon cancer and colon cancer screening.”
Doctors diagnosed Chris, 57, of Chesapeake with stage 4 colon cancer after months of her not feeling well. They first attributed abdominal pain to a stomach ulcer, but when her doctor discovered Chris hadn’t had a colonoscopy for 13 years, they scheduled one.
Before Chris could make it to the appointment, severe pain sent her to the ER, and tests revealed she had a mass in her cecum, the pouch connecting the large and small intestine. The cancer had also spread to her liver.
“It was a horrible, horrible few weeks, “said Erin, the oldest of Chris’ three children. “You never expect to get that news, but we wanted to have faith and be positive for mom.”
Erin and her husband, Cody, moved in with her parents to take care of her mom. After six rounds of chemotherapy, scans in June 2017 showed her cancer was shrinking. Although it had not shrunk enough for surgery, the family was encouraged by the good news.
Unfortunately, less than a week later, Erin noticed her mom looked jaundiced, so they took her the ER. Doctors discovered a blockage in a major vein to Chris’ liver, causing her liver to start to fail.
Mom’s Final Wishes
When the Galant family learned how sick Chris was, they set out to deliver some of her final wishes.
One was to help her daughter, Riley, pick out a wedding dress. Chris was part of a FaceTime conversation with Riley as she picked out her dress. A woman from the dress shop brought the dress to the hospital and staff organized a commitment ceremony for Riley and her fiancé, Nick, with the hospital chaplain performing the ceremony.
Erin also wanted to be sure Chris could see their beloved dog, Lacey. She made arrangements for Lacey to visit Chris outside the hospital.
Last, Chris had hoped to see her son, Jake, graduate from college. At the time, he was a junior at Ohio State. They borrowed a cap and gown from a neighbor and surprised Chris so she could see him dressed in them.
On June 22, 2017, Chris passed away just four months after her diagnosis with her immediate family, extended family and friends by her side.
The family plans to honor Chris each year by participating in the Don’t Sit on Colon Cancer 5K race. Erin also wants to find ways to spread the message of how important it is to schedule regular colonoscopies.