March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
There is a strong family history of colon cancer in my family.
My fraternal aunt.
My big brother.
And my other big brother had radical surgery to treat ulcerative colitis.
After all those incidences, and because family history is such a strong indicator for cancer, my sister and I elected to have early screening. Both of us have had precancerous polyps removed.
We both have regular follow-up tests, every 3 - 5 years.
My father knew something was wrong but nobody talked about colon cancer back then, just like nobody used to talk about breast cancer. We are still squeamish about the language, still uncomfortable discussing body functions. My father's colon cancer was found only after he had suffered a stroke that changed his life fundamentally and forever -- and it was blood clots thrown off by the cancer that had grown large in his left transverse colon that triggered the stroke. He battled through surgery, nearly died during chemotherapy, but is a survivor still.
Same story for my brother (minus the stroke, thank God). I will never forget the moment his surgery was over, and Dr. McRae coming out to the waiting room where we all were, and telling my sister and me to get ourselves screened immediately. It was not what we wanted to hear, but we both heeded his advice, and we are both grateful.
I cannot stress this enough: a colonoscopy is not only the best way to detect tumors in the colon when they are not yet life-threatening, the physician performing the test is able to easily remove an entire unwelcome growth for biopsy, and if caught early enough there may well be no need for any further procedure.
The good news is that great strides are being made in getting the word out that early detection saves lives, but the bad news is that colorectal cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.
Did you hear that?
Colon Cancer is Number Two.
(I'll wait for the giggling to stop.)
So -- during the month of March I ask you to consider supporting me in a very casual wog-a-thon to raise money to fight colorectal cancer. I'm not asking for money directly. I'm not asking you to pledge a certain amount. I'm not even getting involved with the donation process at all. I know what it feels like to be put on the spot, and I don't wish to do that. ("Wogging" is a combination of walking and jogging. Some folks call this interval training. I think wogging sounds more fun.)
Here's how this will work (or not work):
I "wog" most days when the weather cooperates. I log my miles on two websites: MapMyWalk (which does so automatically through my GPS; my username is eleanor49) and MyDailyMile (search for me using my e-mail address). I usually also post my miles to Facebook (and I know some of you have turned off the feed for that, which is perfectly fine). Of course, if you aren't interested in following my progress daily I will post updates here throughout the month.
You decide whether or even when to donate, and to what organization.
Here are two I recommend, though:
The Montgomery Cancer Wellness Foundation is located here, and while they are not involved in research or anything, they provide tons of services free of charge to those undergoing treatment. There may be a similar program in your community if you aren't from here -- and that would be great to support, too.
Additionally, there is the Colon Cancer Alliance which is a great awareness organization, and of course, if you want to contribute directly to research for treatment and cure of colorectal cancer I am sure you can do so through any research facility in the country.
But what I really want you to do in response to this blog post is this:
GET YOUR BUTT TO THE PHONE AND SET UP A SCREENING FOR IT THIS MONTH!