by Jo-Ellen De Luca, Spartanburg, SC
Advocacy comes to you; it becomes your mission. It is your gift. Cancer is hard but surviving it even
harder. A friend, Kate Murphy told me “many people are into screening but living with cancer & coping with it is harder and more complicated”. How true, Kate. Unable to find any meaningful information on
colorectal cancer following my diagnosis in 2001, a Katie Couric brochure appeared in my drug store.
Hallelujah! I wrote and received first 500 then 1,000 then 5,000 Katie-brochures distributing them into the
community with the assistance of local college students like my son. All were given away making people
aware of the ways they could prevent colorectal cancer. The pictures of trusted people helped with message
Any screening test done is the best one for that person: progress has been made. About 1 in every 18 people
will have a brush with colon cancer in their lifetime. Add this to the back of a largely unspoken about but preventable cancer and we with colorectal cancer are fortunate to have screenings that work. Some cancers
have very little forewarning or prevention tools. I work from this positive thought.
Katie Couric’s brochures gave me a start-not having to continue with the mock-up brochure I was working
on. We three original support group members, calling ourselves Get Checked!, grew from 3 of us to over
150 today largely due to starting one small but doable project with impact. Hard work? Yes, that’s a given,
but sharing the load spreads success and momentum takes hold. Get Checked! Meets on 5th Mondays. No
sad stories, rather we invite the public in for great food, wonderful door prizes and a stellar evening with
Doctors and other health professionals they’d like to hear from. It is free, too. Our town’s best Docs
present to a full house with every guest better prepared for a screening message and to act as an advocate
for us and cancer survivorship.
Nationally we colon cancer advocates share great rewards:
- C3 (Colorectal Cancer Coalition) to fight for patient rights in Congress and champion research.
- CCA (Colon Cancer Alliance) the Voice of the Survivor and best place to find a Buddy-everyone
needs a Buddy after cancer diagnosis
- NCCS (National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship) is a great resource and sends free Cancer
Survivorship Tool Kits.
Start there, arm yourself with positive knowledge; make your medical team your “bffs” then join a
support group and decide what Advocacy plan you can devise together…it is worth it. No one deserves
cancer if you can prevent it.