A $175,000 gift will support colorectal cancer screenings of patients being treated at the WVU Cancer Institute.

Robert Fish
Robert Fish

The Barbara Northeimer Fish Memorial Cancer Fund, established by her family, will create a pilot program utilizing stool-DNA testing to focus on early detection of colorectal cancer and pre-cancerous polyps.

West Virginia currently has an uninsured rate of six percent, creating disparity for residents in obtaining preventive care services.

The gift will provide screening opportunities to uninsured individuals aged 50 to 75 years who are eligible based on income guidelines and requirements.

“Even though colon cancer is treatable if found early, it remains the second leading cause of cancer deaths in West Virginia,” donor Robert Fish said. “It is our hope this program will lead to a significant and sustainable increase in early detection and successful treatment among uninsured West Virginians.”

“Barbara and Bob Fish’s years together ended when she passed away from metastatic colorectal cancer,” Richard Goldberg, MD, WVU Cancer Institute director, said. “One way that Bob has dedicated himself to Barbara’s memory is his support of the WVU Cancer Institute's research. Their project focuses on early detection of colorectal cancer or pre-cancerous polyps in underserved populations. Like us, he recognizes that early detection maximizes the chance of cure and diagnosis as stage IV, the most advanced stage, seldom permits curative treatment.

"Through this program, we will teach West Virginians about why to do screening, the availability and ease of many screening options, and we will save lives. What a great legacy to celebrate Barbara’s life as an educator and prevent others from having to endure living with and ultimately dying from a disease we can cure through early detection. Many thanks to both Barbara and Bob and their family for this support.”

Patients with a positive test result will also be navigated to a follow-up diagnostic colonoscopy, a covered service through this program, helping to address the need for free and low-cost colorectal cancer screening programs in the state of West Virginia.

The program is scheduled to launch in fall 2018.

This gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the non-profit corporation that generates and provides support for West Virginia University.

To make a gift and learn more about funding opportunities with the WVU Cancer Institute, please contact Scarlett Schneider, PhD, senior director of development, at 304-293-7732 or scarlett.schneider@hsc.wvu.edu.