Turlock, CA- Just in time for college basketball's March Madness - Emanuel Cancer Center is launching "Get in the Game - Get Checked," a sports-themed cancer awareness campaign to encourage people to get the colorectal screenings that can prevent cancer and save their lives.
The statistics on colorectal cancer aren't pretty:
- Nationwide, there will be 150,000 new cases of colorectal cancers this year - the third most common cancer (excluding skin cancer) and second-leading cancer killer
- More than 90 percent of those cases will be adults over 50 years old
- Fewer than half of Americans over 50 get colonoscopies - screenings that not only detect cancer, but also remove growths that can become cancerous
"Colorectal cancers are highly preventable," said Dr. Isaac Faraji, a gastroenterologist and Emanuel's medical chief of staff. "It's common, but highly preventable. In patients who do develop cancer, if it's diagnosed at an early stage, it's 90 percent curable."
So to encourage people over 50 to get the screenings that can save their lives, Emanuel Cancer Center enlisted three well-known Turlock men of a certain age for the campaign: Turlock Mayor John Lazar, Dr. Curt Andre, former mayor of Turlock, and Dennis Cornwall, retired educator and coach,
Their stories of why they got in the game and got checked will be featured in a direct mailer, a series of print ads, and videos that will appear on cable television, online news sites, YouTube, Facebook and the hospital's website-emanuelmedicalcenter.org/cancer.
"I got checked so I could walk my two daughters down the aisle," said Andre, who got his health wake-up call at national mayors meetings.
"I started to notice that some mayors who had come into office about when I did weren't there anymore," he said. "They'd had serious health issues and some had died." So Andre started making changes.
"I got my blood pressure under control. I started working out with a personal trainer. And I got a colonoscopy. I value a high quality of life, and that doesn't happen by accident," he said. "You have to work on maintaining good mental, physical and spiritual health."
Lazar's children are also part of his decision to focus on maintaining good health.
"I got checked so I could watch my three boys grow into successful young men," he said.
Lazar learned the value of taking care of his health from his father, who had several health issues as a fairly young man.
"He took control of it and that was a good example for me," Lazar said. "He was very pragmatic in his view that you shouldn't be afraid to seek medical advice and assistance."
Lazar has. During his first colonoscopy, doctors found and removed some small polyps - growths that can become cancerous if undiscovered.
"I'm really concerned about being proactive and knowing any signs of abnormal issues," he said. "The sooner something is detected, the sooner it can be addressed."
Cornwall's retired from teaching, but maintains a very active life including skiing in the winter, fly fishing in the summer and being grandpa year-round.
"I got checked so I could teach my grandkids how to fly fish," he said. He's had three colonoscopies, and has advice for anyone who has been putting it off.
"Don't be afraid," he said. "The way they do it now it so much easier - it's totally painless. I've had three."
Opened in 2007, the Emanuel Cancer Center brings world-class cancer care to Turlock. The Center is fully accredited by the American College of Surgeons' Commission on Cancer in recognition of its quality of treatment and care - a commendation only awarded to about 20 percent of cancer programs in the country. The Emanuel Cancer Center includes advanced diagnostic services at the Ruby E. Bergman Women's Diagnostic Center, radiation oncology at Stanford Emanuel Radiation Oncology Center, medical oncology, surgery and other services for cancer patients and their families. Patients at Emanuel Cancer Center can also participate in clinical trials of new treatments.
For more information, to search for a doctor by specialty or location, or for an online symptom-checker, visit www.emanuelmedicalcenter.org.