Angela & Marleigh Cummins: Why the Blue Hope Bash Denver Matters

Angela & Marleigh Cummins: Why the Blue Hope Bash Denver matters

Angela & Marleigh Cummins: Why the Blue Hope Bash Denver Matters

In 2015, Rodney Cummins was a 49-year-old husband and father experiencing multiple symptoms of colorectal cancer (CRC). Less than a year later, he left behind a widow and a broken-hearted daughter. 

Marleigh Cummins, Rodney’s daughter, channeled her grief through the creation of art, jewelry, and baked goods, raising over $500 for the Colorectal Cancer Alliance as a young girl. At the same time, her mother, Angela Cummins, became involved in the Alliance’s online grief group

Seven years later, there isn’t a day that goes by that Marleigh and Angela don’t wish Rodney was still here, they said. At the same time, they hold hope for the day when colorectal cancer becomes a thing of the past. 

This year, Angela – with help from Marleigh – is chairing the Blue Hope Bash Denver. Together, they look forward to sharing their story and connecting with a community of people dedicated to ending this disease in their lifetimes. 

Rodney’s Battle With CRC & Support from the Alliance

When Rodney began experiencing digestive health issues in 2015, he ran into difficulties getting necessary testing. At the time, colonoscopies were not recommended until age 50, creating barriers with his insurance coverage. Still, Rodney and his family opted to assume the cost of the procedure and seek answers for his ongoing gastrointestinal issues. 

Unfortunately, Rodney was diagnosed with stage IV rectal cancer. His cancer spread, and, by early 2016, his wife and 9-year-old daughter went from being in a family of three to a family of two. 

“The Alliance supported me every step of the way,” Angela said. “It really helped me as a caregiver when Rodney was still alive to understand side effects that even pharmacists couldn’t explain. The Alliance gave invaluable support during that time and has continued to show up for me in my grief process.”

For the past six years, Angela has been attending the Alliance’s weekly online My Pals Grief Chat.

“There were several of us in the caregiver group that later became part of the grief group,” Angela said. “We journeyed together, and some of the members even connected in real life. It’s a sort of comradery, a club that no one wants to be in, but that we’re going to support one another through.” 

While it hasn’t been easy, Angela and Marleigh use the strength they have gained from this experience to charge forward in the mission to end colorectal cancer. 

“We know that the Alliance played a huge role in advocating for the age requirement for colonoscopies to change,” Angela said. “This recent change can help save lives. If Rodney could have gotten a screening sooner, I might not be a widow today.” 

While lowering the screening age recommendation from 50 to 45 is a good start, Angela and Marleigh, along with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, aren’t going to stop there with their efforts to prevent colorectal cancer. 

Blue Hope Bash Denver 2023

The Blue Hope Bash is the leading charity gala event series for colorectal cancer prevention, support, and research in the world. Organized by dedicated volunteers like the Cummins, the Blue Hope Bash Denver aims to highlight the collective resolve to end this disease. 

On Saturday, September 30, hundreds of people will gather together for a unique night complete with cocktails, dinner, a program, an auction, and entertainment from Fortissimo Dueling Pianos. Guests will enjoy exclusive access to the Denver Museum of  Nature and Science, including the Gems and Minerals exhibit

“It’s a good time,” said Marleigh, now a rising high school senior. “You get to get dressed up, go out, and meet people you wouldn’t have otherwise met. There’s great food, music, and auction items, and you get the added benefit of knowing you’re supporting an underrepresented cause by going. It means so much to my mom and me.” 

Denver hosts the longest-running regional Blue Hope Bash. Funds raised from Blue Hope Bash Denver directly support the Colorectal Cancer Alliance’s efforts to advocate for prevention, amplify support, and accelerate research. 

"By creating an event that supports the cause against CRC, it creates an opportunity for attendees to talk to their friends and family about the topic," Marleigh said. 

Angela & Marleigh on Why the Blue Hope Bash Denver Matters

No matter how many Blue Hope Bashes Angela and Marleigh attend, it won’t bring Rodney back. Still, Angela and Marleigh understand just how much attending events like these matters. 

“If three people get colonoscopies because I’m talking about CRC, then it’s a win for me,” Angela said. “CRC is so common, yet people remain blindsided by this disease. No one wants to talk about their colon, making this common cancer an unpopular topic of conversation.”

Angela and Marleigh hope that by sharing their story they can help change the trajectory of colorectal cancer moving forward. 

“We need to keep raising awareness,” Marleigh said. “I want people to know that this silent killer is preventable, so they don’t have to go through what we went through.”

Marleigh, also a member of the Blue Hope Bash Denver committee, will emcee this year’s event. 

“I come up with a lot of the ideas and my mom executes,” Marleigh said. “It’s a team effort, and we have a lot of fun surprises in store for this year’s Bash.” 

“Once you’ve been through what we’ve been through, you aren’t going to find one of us without the other,” Angela said. “We’re a package deal, and together we continue to fight to end the disease that took Rodney from us.” 

Life After Rodney

While grief never gets any lighter, we can become accustomed to carrying its weight. By participating in the Blue Hope Bash Denver, Angela and Marleigh are able to channel their pain into an event that truly makes a difference in the lives of so many others. 

“Life goes on,” Angela said. “The world will not stop in any capacity, but there’s not a day that goes by that we don’t miss Rodney.”

Through years of therapy and support from her mom and other youth grief groups, Marleigh has come a long way from the feelings that overcame her when her father passed seven years ago. 

“My dad comes to us in the form of dragonflies, so we see him regularly,” Marleigh said. “The communities that I have become a part of have been so wonderful for me. We have this shared experience that is incredibly unique and unfortunate. It’s nice to have people in your corner.”

The Alliance knows the importance of “having people in your corner,” and seeks to ensure that every person battling a colorectal cancer diagnosis has the support they need. 

Events like the Blue Hope Bash were designed to disrupt the devastation of families being torn apart and lives being forever changed because of colorectal cancer. Join Angela and Marleigh in a night to remember, and help us on our journey to end CRC. 




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