CARY, N.C. (WNCN) — A high school student, a business owner, health care workers, and health advocates are coming together in an effort to fight gastrointestinal cancers. It’s called The Gut Patrol Project.

Green Hope High School student, Siri Chenna, found a passion for medicine after her grandfather’s cancer diagnosis several years ago.

“He was diagnosed with stage three gastric cancer,” she explained. “At the time, my grandfather was in India, so we didn’t get to see him a lot which made it very difficult.”

That experience it gave her a new appreciation for everyone treating him. That inspired her to pursue a career in medicine, but she isn’t waiting until she has a medical degree to help people prevent cancer.

She’s working with The Gut Patrol Project, which raises awareness about cancers of the gastrointestinal system, such as stomach and colorectal cancer.

“We’re just trying to make a difference,” explained Peggy Tatum, a member of The Gut Patrol team and owner of The Connection Place.

Tatum said the project focuses on prevention and early detection measures like screening and healthy eating and offers health fairs and webinars where people can get their questions answered. She says the group works with Duke Cancer Institute and other community partners.

“Anywhere from Black farmers to people who talk about exercising and eating the right foods,” Tatum said.

Chenna said about 300 people attended the most recent health fair and through a partnership with the Black Farmers Market and they gave away more than 200 bags of food.

“The people who came were ones who were really affected by G.I. issues and needed answers,” added Tatum. “That was an opportunity for them to get free information.”

They hope their efforts will save lives.

Chenna says she can’t wait to tell her grandfather about The Gut Patrol Project when he comes to visit.

“To know that he actually did empower and inspire me would just be a great thing for him to hear,” she said.

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