I’ve been trying to collect my thoughts lately. Trying to sort them out, process them and type them up into a neat little package for you. Trying to make sense of the past 3 months that was summer.
Every time I sat down at the computer to write this, something didn’t feel quite right. Now I think I’m finally ready to discuss things with you all, and to ask you for help.
Here we go…
This past May my wonderful dad underwent surgery to remove a third of his colon and part of his small intestine. He has been getting annual colonoscopies since he turned 50 and was deemed a “polyp producer”. Polyps are basically growths on the surface of the colon that can be either benign or cancerous. Normally polyps can be removed during routine colonoscopies. This year when my dad went in for his annual exam, they found a polyp that was irregularly shaped and in a very difficult spot to reach. The doctor scheduled my dad for a right hemicolectomy as a precaution. At that point they weren’t sure if the irregular polyp was benign or cancerous.
The surgery went as well as could be expected. They removed part of his colon, small intestine, and the surrounding blood vessels and lymph nodes as a precaution. We sat on pins and needles for what seemed like ages while they biopsied everything.
The results came back.
No cancer! Hallelujah!!!
What a relief.
The doctor told my dad that it was a good thing that they caught the irregular polyp when they did, or it likely would have become cancerous and he wouldn’t have been so lucky.
My dad had a very long road to recovery, but at the end of the day he was cancer free and that’s what is most important.
So my story has a happy ending, but many others don’t. My dad is willing and able to go in for his exam every year. These things saved his life. But some people complain about going to the doctor. Colonscopies aren’t glamorous (neither is cancer). Some people can’t afford to go to the doctor and have the procedure done. Some people just don’t care. Overall, there is a lack of awareness of the issue.
According to the National Cancer Institute-
~1 in 20 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime
~60,000 deaths occur annually from colorectal cancer – it has the second highest mortality rate for all types of cancers
~men are at a slightly increased risk for getting colorectal cancer
~risk for colorectal cancer increases with age
~50% of Americans don’t have insurance reimbursement for colonoscopies
~colorectal cancer is PREVENTABLE
Unlike a mammogram, which is used for early detection of breast cancer, a colonoscopy can help prevent colon cancer. Doctors can (usually) remove polyps during the colonoscopy without requiring a second procedure.
No polyps=no cancer
The number one way to reduce risk of colon cancer is to have a colonoscopy. Anyone over age 50 should have an exam (sooner if you have an immediate family history of polyps). There are also a few other things that you can do to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer
~live an active lifestyle: research has shown that some form of exercise for 30 minutes a day reduces your risk by 25%
~eat a healthy diet, high in fiber: the colon works together with the rest of your digestive system to process the food you eat, high fat, low fiber diets make this process much harder for the colon, makes sense!
1. get a colonoscopy 2. exercise 3. eat healthy
Love Your Butt (clever right?) is a national campaign dedicated to increasing awareness and helping to prevent colon cancer. They have campaigns, PSAs, and events to get the word out. If people only knew the statistics, risk factors, and how to prevent colorectal cancer we could put a big dent in those scary numbers. They also support research working towards a cure for colorectal cancer. And the last part – helping people get colonoscopies who do not have the financial means to do so themselves. No excuses.
Awareness + prevention +reaseach = Love Your Butt
I am at an increased risk for developing colorectal cancer because my dad has polyps. Rather than letting this get me down, I am making a pledge to be more active and more conscious of my diet.
This fall I will be running the IMT Des Moines Half Marathon in honor of my dad and Love Your Butt. Every training run I have I will be thinking about him and everything he has been through this summer. I will also be thinking about those 60,000 people who weren’t so lucky last year. And helping to decrease that number, one mile at a time.
So will you help me out by making a pledge to love your butt? Get the word out. Donate money if you can. Donate time. Attend an event. Get your colonoscopy. Change your lifestyle. Exercise. Eat healthy.
I would love to hear from all of you, how do you love your butt. Leave a comment below and let me know.