An Important Message
- Actor Jamie Foxx is the latest face to Stand Up To Cancer and raise awareness for colon cancer. March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month.
- There is an emphasis on specifically helping African Americans to get out there and get checked, as the Black community is disproportionately affected by the disease compared to other racial groups.
- Top experts in colon cancer tell SurvivorNet the importance of knowing your family history, since that can affect the age that you should start getting screened.
“Take control of your health and get screened for colon cancer that is beatable in 90% of cases when detected early,” Foxx, who says he has lost many friends to the disease, tweeted to his followers. (The Oscar winner has a new sitcom called Dad, Stop Embarrassing Me! debuting on Netflix next month.)Read More
The campaign, which features print ads as well as a TV commercial, launched to coincide with Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
In the commercial, Foxx urges people to make the time for the screening. “We’re all busy and we think ‘When can we fit it in?’ well, make the time, it just might mean more time with your family down the road,” he says.
Experts suggest that you should start screenings at 45, or even sooner if you have a family history, which you can discuss with your doctor. However, it is important to be your own advocate, so if something doesn’t seem right and you want to get checked even if your doctor says to hold off, consider taking charge as Foxx says.
Take control of your health and get screened for colon cancer that is beatable in 90% of cases when detected early. Join me, @SU2C and @ExactSciences, and talk to your doctor about which screening options may be right for you. Learn more: https://t.co/qZBZjrOeXX. #StandUpToCancer pic.twitter.com/lc67Bz0ofC
— Jamie Foxx (@iamjamiefoxx) March 17, 2021
View this post on Instagram
African Americans and Colon Cancer
Blacks are affected by colon cancer at an alarmingly higher percentage than whites or other ethnicities. They are 20% more likely to get the disease and 40% more likely to die from it than most other groups.
After the tragic loss of Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman to advanced stage colon cancer in August at 43 years old, many are starting to pay more attention, and these public figures and organizations want to continue the momentum by sharing knowledge and resources in how to go and get it done.
The late actor participated in Stand Up To Cancer’s collaboration with American Airlines in 2018 to help raise money for cancer research, but no one knew at the time that he was sick, as he battled the disease privately, but still did what he could to give back.
Knowing Your Family History
Another public figure who is raising awareness for colon cancer is Today co-host Craig Melvin who lost his brother Lawrence Meadows to the disease. Like Boseman, Meadows was just 43 when he passed, and he was diagnosed at age 39. Melvin stresses the importance of learning your family history with cancer. When his brother was diagnosed, his family started having those conversations and in turn, found that there was a history of colon cancer in his family. Some experts say that you should get screened up to 10 years earlier than your family member’s age of diagnosis.
“My older brother, Lawrence, had been having some issues with his stomach several years ago,” Melvin tells SurvivorNet, “and he went to his doctor in South Carolina. And because he was so young– at the time, he was 39– the doctor, for the most part, dismissed it. They went back a few weeks later, and the doctor ultimately said, you know, let’s just rule out all of the terrible things by giving you a CT scan.”
“At the time, it was roughly the size of a grapefruit, and it had metastasized,” Melvin says, pointing out that his brother didn’t drink or smoke, and was a college athlete. “He was a perfect picture of health. So when we got the second opinion, we were stunned, to say the least. One of the things that we found out after my brother was diagnosed is that there was, in fact, a family history of colorectal cancer.”
It didn’t come up until they started asking questions.
“One of the things that is happening in our communities, particularly in the Black communities—we have people who are dying of cancer who shouldn’t be,” Dr. Karen Winkfield, radiation oncologist at Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance in Nashville, Tenn., tells SurvivorNet.
“It’s really important to make sure that we are taking care of our own health and our own bodies,” she says, pointing out that many people may not even have a primary care doctor. “That’s the one thing we have control over. It’s really important to prioritize our screening.”
Everyone should feel empowered to find a doctor they connect with.
“If you don’t like what they’re saying, and you don’t like how they’re saying it to you, you can get another doctor,” Dr. Winkfield urges. “That’s the beautiful thing about being here in the United States, is that you have options. And I think it’s really important, if you are feeling as if the doctor is not trustworthy, or you don’t feel like they have your best interests at heart, please get a second opinion.”