Dress in Blue Day

Today’s post is from Michelle. Normally, Michelle would post on Fridays, but she has a request of you for tomorrow…

When I was diagnosed with colon cancer in May of 2008, I had no idea what kind of impact it was going to have on my life. I didn’t realize that I’d become such a strong advocate for the prevention and testing for this disease. I had no idea that I’d become friends with so many amazing people, or that I’d suffer the loss of their friendship when they passed. I didn’t know that I was going to be taking part in a national movement to bring awareness to this disease, and to the importance of early detection and prevention.

March is Colon Cancer Awareness month. You’ll be hearing more about this as the month wears on – this cause is being picked up and promoted by several high-visibility outlets, and the message is getting out there. While we spend the entire month working to let folks know about colon cancer, tomorrow is a pretty special day. It’s “Dress In Blue Day.” Around the world, over a million people will be wearing blue, to support those fighting this horrible disease, to celebrate those in remission, and to honor those that we’ve lost.

A lot of people assume that colon cancer is a disease that only affect men over the age of 50. This is not true. In fact, the overall cases of newly diagnosed patients is going down slightly year-over-year, but the number of newly-diagnosed patients in the 20-40 year old range is increasing each year. Terrifying, isn’t it? I was only 31 years old when I was diagnosed, and I had no family history. I can name many, many people who don’t fall into the “typical colon cancer patient” stereotype. This disease does not discriminate. It doesn’t care if you’re male, female, old, or young.

Symptoms of this disease can mimic other conditions, and can often be explained away. For example, my symptoms were blood in my stool (hemorrhoids) and changes to my bowel movements (oh, we had Chinese last night for dinner…). For months, I was able to figure out what “caused” the issue. Thankfully, a doctor thought enough to send me to a specialist, and testing was done. When I woke up from my colonoscopy, they told me I had a tumor in my colon, had colon cancer, and needed to schedule my surgery and a meeting with an oncologist.

I can promise you, that is not what I wanted to call my mother on her birthday and tell her. (By the way, don’t plan medical tests on a loved one’s birthday…trust me on this.)

Before I go off on a tangent, I’ll say that I’m one of the lucky ones, and caught my cancer in time. Others aren’t so lucky.

Tomorrow, I will be wearing blue to celebrate my life, to honor those that I’ve lost to this disease, and to support those currently fighting for their lives. I ask you to find one piece of royal blue clothing in your closet or dresser, and make an effort to wear it tomorrow. Ask people if they know why you’re wearing blue, and engage them in conversation.

You can learn more about colon cancer by visiting the Colon Cancer Alliance’s website. They have some really great information about risk factorssymptomstreatment optionspatient support, and ways you can help.

More information about Dress in Blue Day can be found here.

And, if you have any questions about colon cancer or the advocacy work I do, please leave a comment.

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