Capt. Dennis Bohlayer – Prostate Cancer Hero

Picture of Johan Schwartz Karen Schwartz Robert Warren Hess

Karen and Johan Schwartz, with CJF Founder Robert Warren Hess

There are more than 12 million cancer survivors living the in United States and that number is projected to grow significantly over the next decade. But there are cancer heroes among those 12 million people. Karen Schwartz wrote this tribute to her uncle, but she herself is a cancer hero.

Karen, along with her husband Johan Schwartz, have been very active in bringing prostate cancer awareness to the auto racing community. You can connect with Johan through his website and have hime as your coach  

Karen became a breast cancer survivor last last year, and continues actively advocating for prostate and breast cancer awareness. She recently published this post on the anniversary of her uncle’s passing.

Her uncle might well have been saved by

A Tribute To My Uncle – Capt. Dennis Bohlayer:

A Prostate Cancer Hero    

By Karen Schwartz

Fall of 2014, Johan and I were putting efforts together to have Johan drive a full season in Pirelli World Challenge and were excited to finally have the platform to bring awareness to Prostate Cancer.  We felt strongly about this as my family has a deep history with cancer and in 1979 was the third family to join a study by Mary Claire King, who is credited with the BRCA1 discovery in 1990. Little did we know, as we were putting together our season, my uncle, Dennis Bohlayer, was making ready to announce his diagnosis with aggressive prostate cancer. My uncle’s diagnosis only fueled me more in my desire to really get the message of Prostate Cancer Awareness out there, to break the silence and start the conversation.

 Since then, my uncle Dennis fought a brave battle.  One with determination to beat the odds of being a BRCA2 carrier with a mother who died of breast cancer at age of 45.  In addition to his own battle, my uncle looked outside of himself and supported his daughter through her own BRCA diagnosis and treatment for precancerous breast cancer.  He and my aunt were super supportive of me during my own recent breast cancer battle, despite things having become increasingly challenging as options and odds were narrowing for my uncle.

 During my uncle’s battle, he was able to enjoy his two grandson’s from his daughter and witness his son become a father to a daughter.  He continued to be the anchor of his immediate and our expanded family in the role he has always held as family historian and comedian.  His commitment to help those in his community was unwavering during this time.

Friday morning, March 10th, my uncle Dennis passed away.  I don’t look at it as he lost his battle, because my uncle Dennis has done all he can do to help make sure he is still present and contributing to defeating prostate cancer by having donated organ tissue to research.  To say I am proud of my uncle Dennis is truly an understatement.  

Captain Dennis Bohlayer, All American College Track and Field star, USCG Academy Hall of Fame member, dedicated 24 year serviceman of the Coast Guard, 19 year leader in Facilities Management with Towson University and avid volunteer within his community and Habitat for Humanity.  March 10, 2017.

 The flag I wave to bring awareness to Early Detection and Education for Prostate Cancer & Breast Cancer will be now be waved higher and with an extra smile, a bit more strength and a loving memory of my Uncle Dennis.  


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