This morning I awakened to fog enveloping my room, making it impossible for me to see my usual, inspirational view of Lake Barcroft, a lake created by a dam, is, actually, a reservoir. What immediately came to my mind was that -if I’m not mindful – I could always live my life in a “fog”. What better way to “see” through a fog than to have gratitude & gratefulness in mind as I “cut through the fog” of each and every day.

I would like to share with you a few of the people in my life for whom I’m so very grateful. Without these brilliant minds, these loyal hearts, COLONTOWN would still be a dream. My visual execution of the concept would not have been brilliant, the name would have been ho-hum, the entity would not have been real. A few people believed in me, and they demonstrated their belief by showing up for me when I asked them…and they provided their talents to create the foundation of what you know today: COLONTOWN.

Sarah Edgell is one of those: a fabulous designer and wordsmith. She really “gets” what we’re about: an old-time community in which everyone is connected, who know that mutual support is something that we can each give. Sarah is not only a believer in the goodness of man, but she knows how to express it, how to make us feel it. I somehow knew this when I first met her in the early ’90’s, when I first moved to Denver.

When I eventually found myself at that point that I was ready to “do something” for CRC patients, I went to see Sarah. When I told her some of the group names I had been thinking over, her face registered the fact that she wasn’t a fan of any of my names. “How about……COLONTOWN?” she asked quizzically.

My reaction was instantaneous. “That’s IT!” I was so excited! I could not believe how perfectly the name fit for what I wanted to create: an attracting name for a welcoming PLACE for each of us affected by colorectal disease. I know that is – in seven years – precisely what we have done. I know it every single time that a person smiles when they see our graphic on a card, brochure, poster, tablecloth; I know it when so often a COLONTOWNIE proudly proclaims membership with us…and gratitude for being in our community. I know it when – as happens frequently – someone sends me a personal message that tells me that their being in COLONTOWN has helped to save their life.

I know that Sarah really cares about us and our community. That care and concern for us shines through on every project that she helps execute and direct. Who doesn’t know about our original business cards (with the view of the bucolic country scene), our first community newspapers (with the COLONTOWN map in the middle), the more recent “world’s tiniest newspaper” (the pocket-size brochure that folds out)?

When I went to talk with Sarah, I had no money, no budget for COLONTOWN. I was creating our community out of “air” (as I said it then), living in others’ homes for short stints, working as a pool lifeguard and dog-walker, and – were it not for the kindness of others like Sarah – COLONTOWN would not exist. Sarah did all of this work FOR US pro bono, at no charge. Sarah gave freely of her brilliant talent, and for that, I am so very grateful.

So, thank you, Sarah; thank you, John E.; thank you, John W.; thank you, Suzanne L; thank you, Robin B; thank you, Joy H; thank you, Anne B., Mary Jo C., Linda W., Kathryn F-B, Alan N., Trevor B., Michael S., & Eric H. I feel great gratitude to each and every one of you!

These were the first ones for whom I have so much gratitude when I think of what we have become.

There! I already feel better. The fog has lifted!!

And never forget: TO LIFE!!

Erika Hanson Brown, Founding Mayor of COLONTOWN

Are you a colorectal cancer patient or caregiver? Join COLONTOWN, and find your people!

Erika Brown

Erika Brown


Co-Founder, PALTOWN, Founding Mayor, COLONTOWN
Ms. Brown, a Montana native, had a long and healthy career as a corporate executive search professional in the consumer packaged goods and telecommunications industries until – at age 58 – she was diagnosed with late-stage colorectal cancer. Once her treatment was completed, she refocused her professional energies on the undeveloped niche of disease-specific patient empowerment, founding COLONTOWN, the patient community. COLONTOWN features deeply engaged, experience-specific, secret support groups that are exclusively dedicated to colorectal cancer patients and family members.

In 2016, Brown co-founded the PALTOWN Development Foundation to create additional disease-focused communities for even more patients and families. COLONTOWN is the model for patient community building, providing the template and proof -of- concept for disease communities that will be developed.

Erika holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts (French) from the University of Montana.

Ms. Brown is grateful, empowered, and disease-free – 18 years later.

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