by Grace Butler, Ph.D., Founder/CEO of Hope Through Grace
Colon cancer is back in the headlines with the recent death of beloved Disco icon Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees. We offer our sincerest and deepest condolences to his family. This tragedy shows that colon cancer can strike anyone, regardless of station in life. Colon cancer does not care how much money you make, what kind of job you have, what kind of car you drive or whether you have insurance.
I founded Hope Through Grace to help people understand that this is a highly preventable disease. As a matter of fact, colon cancer is said to be 95% preventable if recommended measures are undertaken. I am deeply saddened whenever I hear of a life lost to colon cancer. I wonder "why"? Were they not informed or were they informed but chose not to act? I have dedicated the last decade of my life to spreading this message. And I will keep spreading it as long as I am able to do so. So bear with me now as I talk about the facts surrounding colon cancer.
The colon is another word for the large intestine. Colorectal cancer means cancer of the colon and/or rectum. Colon cancer happens when small benign growths called polyps get larger and turn into cancerous lumps. Eventually those cancerous lumps grow out of the colon and travel to other places throughout the body. This process is called metastasis, when cancer is really at an advanced stage. But in many cases, screening methods can catch these growths at the early stage when they are still benign polyps.
The screening method considered the gold standard is colonoscopy, in which a doctor uses a long tube, the colonoscope, with a video camera attached to examine the entire colon which is about six to eight feet long. During the colonoscopy, doctors will remove polyps, preventing them from ever turning into cancer.
The key, though, is to get the test done at the recommended age of 50, and earlier if you have a family history of colon cancer. Because the death rate from colon cancer is highest among African Americans, the recommendations for blacks is to have a baseline colonoscopy at age 45. If the results are normal, generally the test does not need to be repeated for another 7-10 years.
I have heard many comments over the years from African American men, in particular, that they don't want anyone "looking at that part of their body." But what they fail to understand is that if colon cancer develops, many people will be looking all over their bodies during treatment and recovery!
I had a colleague say to me years ago when I founded Hope Through Grace, that she lost her husband to "male vanity," because he refused to get a colonoscopy due to the intimate nature of the procedure. I shudder to think of lives being lost due to male vanity; lives that could be saved by getting a colonoscopy. Don't let embarrasment keep you from getting your colon checked!
If a colonoscopy is not covered by your insurance or you don't have insurance, jump online and do a little research into community programs that may help cover some or all of the costs. After all, isn't the time spent on research and getting the procedure done worth your life?
We have an enormous task ahead of us. We must become better educated about the disease, how it can be prevented and what every adult person in our communities can do to remove colorectal cancer from the odious distinction of "second leading cancer killer of men and women." Together, we can "eliminate colorectal cancer through prevention and early detection," which is the mission of Hope Through Grace.
Hope Through Grace, Inc. is here for those who need or desire a bit of motivation to get started on the colon educational journey. Join Hope Through Grace at the Texas Black Expo, held at Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center, on June 16-17th, where we will present an exhibit called The Adventure Colon. This is a 20-foot long walk through a replica of a human colon, where guests will be able to see the differences between a healthy and a diseased colon. It will be highly educational and a lot of fun for the whole family. Visit our website for more information: www.hopethroughgrace.org. Or you may call us at 713.668.HOPE (4673).
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Friday, May 4, 2012
The story of The Bee Gees Robin Gibb, who has colorectal cancer and recently woke up after a 12 day coma is incredible as it is heartlifting; we look forward to hearing more about his story. In the meantime, here at Hope Through Grace, we continue our mission of offering eligible Harris County residents the chance to prevent colon cancer with a low cost or no cost colonoscopy.
Colorectal (colon or rectal) cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among adults in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 60 percent of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented if everyone aged 50 years and older were screened, as recommended. According to The State of Health Houston/Harris County 2012, more than 40% of residents remain unscreened for this highly preventable and curable disease. Hope Through Grace, Inc., (HTG) wants to change that by removing financial barriers that prevent people from getting the baseline colonoscopy. Currently, this offer is afforded to at risk Harris County residents without health insurance. To determine full eligibility, individuals need to contact us by phone (713.668.HOPE) for a brief consultation.
Colon cancer can be prevented through the screening method known as colonoscopy, which is considered the “gold standard” of colon screening. During a colonoscopy, when polyps are detected in the colon they can be removed, preventing cancer from developing.
Hope Through Grace has offered financial support for the baseline screening colonoscopy to dozens of people over the last decade; many of whom were found to have lesions. Additionally, we conduct health education forums so that people will have a better understanding of how they might lower their risk while at the same time they will develop more healthy lifestyles.
Please call us at 713.668.HOPE (4673) to determine whether you are eligible. Remember, a colonoscopy could save your life!