Sports has always been a big part of Jimmy Long's life. But about six years ago, life threw him a foul ball. He went to the doctor for what he thought was a throat problem, when his doctor reminded him he hadn't had a colonoscopy.
Jimmy Long says "He says your throat looks well, but we found something in the lower part of your colon and he says it doesn't look very good."
Jimmy was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and says "I was shocked, I had a great deal of fear that went through my mind."
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Jimmy didn't have a lot of time to think about it. He had to quickly decide what would be his next step. Where did he go from here? Long says "They put a team together and within days I was going through the process." He underwent chemo and radiation.
Health experts say if everyone age 50 and older were screened regularly, 6 out of 10 deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented, but they add some people may need to be screened earlier.
We spoke with Nurse Navigator, Kim Shank from CHI Memorial.
Kim Shank says "People at higher risk for colon cancer should begin screening earlier, higher risk meaning if you've had a first degree relative with colon cancer, that puts you at higher risk."
Shank says other conditions such as Crohn's disease and Colitis can also put you at risk . She went on to say there are several recommendations that African Americans get screened beginning at age 45 rather than 50.
This year approximately 140,000 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 56,000 will die from this disease. But if caught early, it's estimated 40,000 or more lives could be saved through screening and early treatment.
That's why Shank says it's so important for patients to talk to their doctors and be advocates for your own health.
Kim Shank says "Ask them about screenings talk to them about your family history, ask about screenings, because you're your best advocate with your physician when talking about screenings."
Jimmy, definitely agrees. Life through him a foul ball, but he didn't strike out.
Long says "Now I'm an advocate of colonoscopy, whatever it takes you need to have that done, that is a safety precaution for your very life, there is no amount of money that is worth your health."
MARCH IS COLON CANCER AWARENESS MONTH.
HELP CONQUER COLON CANCER
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