We interrupt our wall-to-wall Pope Francis coverage for my annual post in honor of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, which is celebrated in March. Every year at this time, I parade out a photo of my fine-looking colon to get your attention. (Yes, that is my actual colon, as it appeared during my most recent colonoscopy, which was done just over a year ago.)
Why am I so passionate about something that many people (wrongly) feel ashamed to talk about? Because I would rather talk about this disease and pay attention to this disease than die of it, which my mother did just about 25 years ago at the ripe old age of only 47 after a lifetime of very clean living.
If caught early, colon cancer is a curable disease. If not caught early, it will kill you. Sometimes very quickly. My mother had months not years, and not very good months considering what they did to try to save her. So, for your health, for your family, for anyone who cares about you, go get a colonoscopy as soon as you can if you are over 50 and have never had one, or if you are under 50 but have a family history of colon cancer or any diseases of the colon. (For obvious reasons, I’m a proponent of moving that age requirement down to 40 because way too many people die of colon cancer long before they see their 50th birthday.)
The test is not as bad as you would imagine. Really. I’ve had three so far and the advances they’ve made in the prep work that needs to be done is remarkable. The last two experiences compared to my first were like night and day, and I can honestly say that I do not fear the next test, which will come up again in a year or two. (I’m on a two-to-three year cycle of tests now. Thanks, mom.)
In addition to getting a test to makes sure you don’t already have colon cancer or the polyps that can lead to cancer, you can also take some steps to try to prevent colon cancer. Increase fiber, decrease meat. Yes, that’s right. Cut down on meat. Do you think that’s just some vegetarian propaganda? Think again. Red meat is no friend to the colon. Cut it out or at least cut it down. High fat diets aren’t so great either.
If you want more information on the signs and symptoms of colon cancer, testing, prevention and more, go to the American Cancer Society by clicking HERE. Now, go call your doctor and make an appointment before I put up photos of someone’s unhealthy colon just to scare you.