Punta Gorda police unite to help a colleague with cancer

When battling cancer there are three immediate fronts that will challenge a patient’s resolve: physical, mental and financial.

Catherine Stewart, a police officer in Punta Gorda, has been bravely fighting all three. But she is not alone. Her life took a drastic turn last November, when she noticed some minor aches and pains.

“I really didn’t pay a lot of attention to it, because I’ve had a healthy lifestyle,” Stewart said. “I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.”

Multiple myeloma is a rare form of blood cancer affecting fewer than 200,000 people a year in the United States.

When her colleagues found out, they decided to help.

“We knew that this was going to be a tremendous feat for her,” said Lieutenant Justin Davoult, who started a fundraising campaign for her.

Medication costs alone for this cancer increased about $3,800 a month from the year 2000 to 2014, according to Celgene, a global biopharmaceutical company.

“I actually knew Catherine before I was a police officer,” Davoult said. “She was part of the motivation why I got into law enforcement.”

He and his male colleagues sport goatees to raise awareness.

“It’s amazing,” said Stewart while chuckling. “I’m looking at all the guys working around here with their goatees.”

They grew their goatees to show Stewart she is not alone in this medical and financial battle, which could last for years. In the near future, she will have a bone marrow or stem cell transplant to get ahead of the cancer.

Stewart encourages others to take possible symptoms seriously and get checked out if something may be wrong.

“I have wonderful insurance here in the city with Punta Gorda,” Stewart said. “All cancer is very expensive.”

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To stay up-to-date on Officer Stewart’s battle against cancer, visit the Punta Gorda Police Department Facebook page.

Reporter:Channing Frampton
Writer:Michael Mora
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