March is awareness month for colorectal cancer — cancer of the colon or rectum. According to www.preventcancer.org, this year, more than 142,500 people will be diagnosed with the disease. Nearly 51,400 will die.
“Colonoscopies are not that bad,” says Doris Devine of Harrodsburg. At 53, she is in Stage 4 of colon cancer, diagnosed in 2007. She shouldn’t be disabled, she says; she should be working.
“There’s only one way to stop it, and that’s detection. One day of being uncomfortable (undergoing a colonoscopy) next to a whole lifetime of uncomfortable. It’s worth it.”
Devine realizes a colonoscopy is not a cheap test but says it’s a lot cheaper than cancer.
“Cancer is expensive. I don’t want anyone else to go through what I do,” Devine says. “There’s no reason we should be watching people die from this. All you have to do is catch it in time. It’s 90 percent curable.”
Devine says anyone who has problems with polyps or has the colorectal polyps in their family history should be aware they are at risk.
“They should have the test early,” Devine says.
Several screening tests detect colorectal cancer early, when it can be more easily and successfully treated.
"Honestly, I will go around screaming this as much as I can to anyone who listens. No one should have to live their life like this," Devins says. "If one person listens and goes to get tested and one life is saved, it's worth it to me."
Are you at risk?
The following factors could put you at risk of developing colorectal cancer, according to www.preventcancer.org, and should be considerd. At risk are people who:
- are age 50 or older;
- are overweight or obese, especially those who carry fat around their waists;
- aren’t physically active;
- drink alcohol in excess, especially men;
- eat a lot of red meat such as beef, pork or lamb or processed meat such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs or cold cuts;
- have personal or family histories of colorectal cancer or benign (not cancerous) colorectal polyps;
- have personal histories of inflammatory bowel disease (such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease); and
- have family histories of inherited colorectal cancer or inherited colorectal problems.
- Be physically active for at least 30 minutes, at least five days a week.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, quit.
- If you drink alcohol, have no more than one drink a day if you’re a woman or two drinks a day if you’re a man.
- Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains to help you get and stay healthy.
- Eat less red meat and cut out processed meat.