Colon cancer has again reared its ugly head in my family.
As many of you know, I lost my mother, Rhoda Kaufer to colon cancer on April 19, 2014. At the age of 68, she had never been screened for colon cancer and, out of fear, ignorance or both, ignored numerous symptoms of colon cancer for a very long time. At the time that she was diagnosed, the cancer had metasticized to her entire liver and both lungs. We were told that the cancer had likely been growing and spreading for several years before the diagnosis was made. She died six weeks and two days after the diagnosis was made.
On December 1, 2017, my wife, Beth Kaufer, on her 48th birthday, was diagnosed with colon cancer. Unlike my mother, Beth went to her doctor with the first sign of a symptom. Although her symptom could have easily been explained away with much more benign medical conditions, her doctor advised her to have a colonoscopy anyway to “just be sure that it was nothing more.” Much to everyone’s surprise a large six centimeter mass was found in her descending colon and the pathology confirmed that it was malignant. On December 21, 2017, Beth underwent a laparoscopic resection of the affected part of the colon. Miraculously, the surgical pathology classified the tumor as Stage I, indicating that there are no signs that the cancer spread beyond the colon. Other than very regular scans and colonoscopies, it appears that Beth will require no further treatment and is now considered to be cancer free.
The survival rate for colon cancer is 90% if it is caught and treated in its early stages. Unfortunately, only 40% of cases are being diagnosed in these stages. Presently, 1 in 3 adults over the age of 50 are not up to date in their colon cancer screening or have never been screened at all. The stories of the two most important women in my life are definitive proof of the importance of early screening. Due to Beth’s diligence and her amazing doctor, she is alive and doing well as she recovers from surgery. Had my mother been as diligent in her health care, she may still be alive today.
The Colon Cancer Coalition is committed to raising colon cancer screening rates to 80% by the year 2018 to further halt this preventable and curable cancer. Reaching this goal will save approximately 200,000 lives by the year 2030.
The Colon Cancer Coalition’s focus is on educating the community about the importance of colorectal cancer screening. Since 2004, millions of dollars have been granted by the Colon Cancer Coalition to local programs that promote early prevention, screening and patient support services for this disease. By making the words colon, colorectal and colonoscopy a part of the everyday language, it is believed that we can overcome the stigma and fear and decrease deaths from this largely preventable cancer.
March is colon cancer awareness month. I am committed to raising at least $5,000 by the end of March 2018, in addition to the funds that I have already raised, to support the efforts of the Colon Cancer Coalition in preventing unnecessary deaths due to late detected colon cancer. Please help me in this important cause and please pass this plea on to anyone and everyone that you feel may be able to help.
- rachel eisenberg
- Marise Hausner
- Maddie Freeman
- Joe DiRienzo
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