Due to an unexpected stomach cancer diagnosis, Colleyville residents Jeff and Candace Netzer founded Stupid Strong in 2014. Jeff said Candace did not fit the typical demographic for this disease, which is usually found in older Asian men.

“She was very healthy, led a very healthy lifestyle, ate well, exercised and was young,” Jeff said. “When we first went to the oncologist at MD Anderson, we asked how she could have gotten it and they said she just had bad luck, which was unfortunate and hard to hear.”

The action taken

When the Netzer family started telling family and friends about the diagnosis, they received what Jeff called, “an outpouring of love and support.” People wanted to do something and give them gifts. As a result, the Netzers began a nonprofit organization about 60 days later.

“We hosted our first fundraiser, which was a park walk in our neighborhood,” Jeff said. “We had a bunch of local businesses donate gifts and products for raffles. We raised $5,000 dollars.”

Ultimately, Candace did not survive her diagnosis.

“She knew, I think, when she was diagnosed that the cancer was going to take her,” Jeff said. “The prognosis isn’t good at the stage she was diagnosed. She wanted to have some good come from it.”

Current situation

Stupid Strong has raised over $1.6 million since inception. Sources of revenue include the charity golf classic, annual fall gala and financial gifts from corporations and individuals.

Ashley Elmore was good friends with Candance and is the vice president of the nonprofit.

“We’re very transparent about how we use their money,” Elmore said. “Our donors tell us they appreciate knowing exactly where their money is going. They see it when we put out a report and at our programs.”

Zooming in

Stupid Strong is devoted to raising awareness about gastric cancer, advancing funding for research and providing education and support to families in need.

An educational component is the organization’s ‘Test your Biomarkers’ campaign. Jeff said there has been an effective benefit when biomarkers are tested then matched with certain treatments.

“The problem is a lot of patients don’t know to ask to be biomarker tested,” Jeff said. “Our goal is to educate the general community. Once you're diagnosed, you need to tell your oncologist or primary care physician that you want this particular test done.”

The inspiration

Kate Netzer, Jeff and Candace Netzer’s daughter, often attends advocacy events to heighten stomach cancer awareness. She describes her mother as being “funny” and “kind of weird.”

“We’d be weird together,” Kate said. “She was fun to be around, always smiling and telling jokes.”

Jeff said Candace survived about three years after the diagnosis.

“This is her legacy and we’ll continue to do it,” Jeff said.