I took a little stroll through the inside of a colon yesterday. Yes, a colon; the large organ that makes up the lower part of the digestive system. Confused? Stay with me. As part of a smart awareness campaign, the Canadian Colorectal Cancer Association (CCCA) and the Ontario Ministry of Health an Long-Term Care have erected a huge inflatable colon in a downtown Toronto mall. The 40-foot pink tunnel shows visitors what different colon diseases look like, including colorectal cancer. As you take the magical mystery tour, a wacky puppet named Dr. Preventino appears on video screens to act as your guide.
So why a giant colon?
‘The giant colon is important to get people to act on their knowledge,’ says CCCA president Barry Stein, who is himself a colorectal cancer survivor. ‘If people actually see the colon and the polyps inside, they know that if you do have a screening test, you can actually remove the polyp before you even get the cancer.’
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Canada, but the disease is 90 percent curable if caught and treated early.
The CCAC recommends that regular screening for colorectal cancer be part of everyone’s medical routine over the age of 50. However, says Stein, if you have a family history of colorectal cancer or you are displaying symptoms of the disease, get tested earlier.
Colorectal cancer survivor Jeane Loffelhardt, 56, was on hand at the giant colon to promote the importance of pre-screening for the disease. (That’s her in the picture with Dr. Preventivo.) ‘I’m here to say that since I did have colon cancer and had the surgeries and chemothearapy, that I would not want other people to have to go through that,’ she says. ‘I really want to urge them to get screened.’
I bet you’re just dying to see what the inside of a giant inflatable colon looks like, right? Check the CCAC website to find out if it will be making an appearance in your home town. And click through to see my pictures and learn what may be going on inside your colon.