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Joan & Thea’s Journey

Our family's experience with fatal disease, early cancer detection, prevention and hope.


Thea’s words. On an autumn afternoon in 1991, while I sat with my dad in the living room of our Manhattan apartment, he tape-recorded as many stories about his life he could remember. He had 6 months to live and he wanted me to remember him. I was 12 years old and had no concept that that afternoon was one of the last times I would see him alive. He was 35. He died a week before his 36th birthday.

I know now that my dad did not have to die of colon cancer. If only he had taken better care of himself, he would still be alive today.

Joan Peckolick’s words (Founder and Director of Self chec) You bring a child into the world and want to shield them from life’s deep psychic pain especially when they have not yet developed the tools to deal with it, but I couldn’t do that for Thea.

My father was diagnosed with colon cancer in his late 40’s, had it treated and lived well into his 80’s. Thea’s father, Michael, was diagnosed at 35 and died a year later.

Years following his death I continued to ask myself why. The answer became clear to me as the years past. My dad had his cancer early detected and Michael who had early symptoms, did not.

I became witness to the  importance of early detection and in 1998 after hearing of others being diagnosed with cancer; some living through their ordeal to lead fulfilling lives and others dying, I decided to do something about it. Hence, Self chec was born.

I found out early on that there was a dearth of funding for early detection and prevention of not only cancer, but also chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Funding was going into research, while millions of some of our friends and family were dying unnecessarily of these chronic diseases. And unfortunately this is still happening.

And what about the excuses we make to ourselves, and the often empty promises about trying to keep healthy? Even before we get our test results, we start bargaining… I’ll change, I’ll eat better, I’ll get more exercise, I’ll stop smoking and drinking. It’s a scary thing to confront cancer, heart disease, diabetes and any other illness. Not to mention time-consuming, expensive and emotionally taxing. And when treatment fails, heartbreaking. Preventative self-care and early detection can mean the difference between living a full, happy life and dying too early. Yet we often find lots of excuses to avoid going to the doctor, getting physicals and performing self-checks. 

Self chec is a partner in your health care. Please take the time to give our site the chance to help you keep healthy, if not for yourself than all the others who care about you. Think about it, there are quite a few…