March On!

Michael COC

by Belle Piazza

March has come to be one of my favorite months, for a reason I never anticipated. March is widely recognized as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and organizations across the country celebrate it with different awareness and educational events. No doubt I will hear “but lung cancer is important too – and pancreatic, and childhood cancer’s – all cancer’s are important and deserve attention”. To this I could not agree more. But education and awareness of colorectal cancer is especially important to me and not just because it has affected me personally. Colorectal cancer is the #2 leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women in the United States. Lots of people will be diagnosed with this disease – many of whom may have it now and don’t even realize it. Yet it is one of the easiest cancers to prevent through appropriate screenings – i.e. a colonoscopy. For many people, this disease can be completely prevented and I think that’s worth an extra push to get the word out to as many people as possible.

At the Colon Club this month, the Board of Directors is sifting through the 100+ applications they received for the 2015 Colondar. Applicants will be notified no later than Feb. 23, either way, and the 13 finalists will be announced publicly on March 1, 2014. The Colondar is a valuable tool in educating the public about all things colorectal cancer but there are many other ways to raise awareness that anyone can participate in.

Today in the mail I received from the Governor’s Office, State of Washington, a state proclamation declaring March 2014 Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Advocates from all 50 states have submitted requests and many states have already issued their proclamations; many more are coming. Fight Colorectal Cancer and Colon Cancer Alliance have joined together in this project and we’re hoping to turn the entire country blue for March. This was the first time I made the request and I couldn’t believe how simple it was. It took about 15 minutes of time to fill out the on-line application and a quick follow up e-mail to the governors office.

March 3rd in New York City, Fight Colorectal Cancer will be kicking off their 2014 One Million Strong campaign and introducing the One Million Strong March. There will be a vow renewal ceremony during the festivities for colorectal cancer survivors and their partners for those who have signed up in advance. Festivities begin in Vanderbilt Hall, Grand Central Station. The March will proceed to Times Square. Find out details here – http://fightcolorectalcancer.org/nyc-one-million-strong-march

March 7th is “Dress in Blue Day”. Wear your best blue and read about details of the event, sponsored by Colon Cancer Alliance here –
http://support.ccalliance.org/site/TR?fr_id=1830&pg=entry

March 16th thru 18th Fight Colorectal Cancer will hold their annual Call on Congress in Washington D.C. Registration closes February 21st so sign up quickly if you are planning on participating but haven’t registered yet. You can learn more about Call on Congress here http://fightcolorectalcancer.org/do-something/change-policy-advocacy/about-call-on-congress/

Northwesterner’s, we haven’t forgotten you! Saturday, April 12th the Steve Baker Colorectal Cancer Alliance and Fight Colorectal Cancer will be hosting their first ever One Million Strong Event in Portland at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Details to follow – we’re still finalizing everything.

With spring approaching, it’s time to dust off those running shoes and get moving! No one can make this happen for a better cause than “Get Your Rear in Gear”. Follow them on Facebook and check out their web-site for a list of cities hosting 5K’s for 2014. www.getyourrearingear.com If you don’t see an event in a city near you, GYRIG can help you plan one of your own! Contact annecarlson@getyourrearingear.com for details on how to host a 5K in your own home town.

Another great organization for 5K’s and much more is Colon Cancer Alliance www.ccaliance.org Check out their web-site for upcoming “Undy5000’s” and their Blue Star Calendar for a list of other events throughout the year. And again, if there’s not an Undy5000 near you, plan one of your own! Contact the Colon Cancer Alliance (contact info on their web-site) for information on how they can help.

I live in a small town – population 18,000+. We have a small, local newspaper and it’s pretty easy to get a letter published in the Editorial Section. Take a moment to write to your own local newspaper about the importance of colonoscopy’s, age appropriate screening, family history and the importance of knowing and recognizing the symptoms of colorectal cancer.

If you have an event you want to share, post it on Colon Talk (the chat board here at The Colon Club), your Facebook page and any other media you utilize to get the word out.

One of the easiest and most powerful ways to be an advocate and raise awareness is to simply tell your story. Tell a friend, a coworker, a total stranger – anyone who will listen! If just one person who listens to you picks up the phone and calls their doctor to schedule a colonoscopy, you may have just saved their life. That is empowering and that is how one person – YOU – can make a difference in fighting this disease. I hope each of you enjoys March as much as I do. It’s bittersweet, for sure; the reasons I love March so much. I wish I’d never found my way into this world – but I’m here. And so long as I’m here, I’m going to do what I can within my power to make a difference. I hope you feel the same way and will do all that you can, to make a difference as well.