By Tai Prohaska
Blue polka dots covered Forest Park in St. Louis last Saturday as nearly 2,000 runners and walkers raised awareness at the Colon Cancer Alliance Undy Run. Dotted boxers were official garb for registered participants, and they were often accompanied by T-shirts emblazoned with “bum puns” and scatological humor.
For example, the Hershey Squirts team shirt was a big hit. The poop emoji was popular too. Runners were encouraged to “Race to the End” and walkers were out “Strollin’ for the Colon”. Allsup team members wore “Team Becky” T-shirts with sneaker prints on the back, with the message, “Stomp Out Cancer.” Other shirts encouraged folks to “Protect Your ASSets.”
Humor helps us talk about issues that aren’t easy to address. Of cancers that affect both men and women, colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S. One in 3people diagnosed with colon cancer will die of the disease. But it doesn’t have to be fatal. If detected early or in the pre-cancerous stages, colon cancer can be successfully treated or avoided.
Organizations like the Colon Cancer Alliance are instrumental in raising awareness and improving access to life-saving screenings like colonoscopies. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one-third of adults aged 50 or older (about 22 million people)—the age group at greatest risk of developing colorectal cancer—have not been screened as recommended. In addition, colon cancer diagnoses in people under age 50 have been steadily increasing.
Workplace issues are significant for those diagnosed during their prime earning years. They often need information about applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits that provide a monthly income based on what an individual has paid into the system, and access to Medicare.
The Undy Run is one of my favorite events. It not only provides a safe place to run around in my underwear once a year, it also gives me the opportunity to share information on how to apply for disability benefits with individuals and families affected by colon cancer.
This year was really cool because I placed third in my age group for the 5k. Joe McBroom, an Allsup VA- accredited Claims Agent who helps veterans with their disability appeals, took first in his age group.
The Undy Run is also a fundraiser. So, I am willing to part with my award-winning pair of 2017 St. Louis Undy Run boxers, as worn in the photo, to the highest bidder. Submit a bid by clicking on the comment box under the blog headline. All proceeds will go to Team Allsup’s Undy Run fundraising effort.
Next : What to Expect During a Colonoscopy
By Jeanine Gleba, Advocacy Manager; Jay Pacitti, Executive Director, and
Ed Pfueller, Communications Manager, United Ostomy Associations of America, Inc.
From the board room to construction to long shifts in a hospital, people living with an ostomy (colostomy, ileostomy, urostomy, etc.) work every job imaginable. Embracing a new normal in life after ostomy surgery is key to living an active life. For many, that daily norm means returning to work.
According to the American College of Surgeons once you have recovered from surgery, your ostomy should not limit your return to work. The timing of your return depends on your individual recovery and the physical demands of your job.
Whether to tell your employer or co-workers is a personal choice depending on your work situation, but some feel it helps if you require frequent breaks or other accommodations. Remember that your co-workers will likely not realize you have an ostomy unless you tell them.
Here are a few tips from United Ostomy Associations of America, Inc. (UOAA’s) Facebook community and Advocacy Network.
- Be Prepared: In the case of a possible leak, have a complete change of your ostomy supplies as well as a change of clothes you can bring to the restroom.“Pack in a backpack, zippered tote, or small duffle bag that you can store in your desk drawer or locker.” –Jane Ashley-publishing/author
- Know Your Rights: You have legal rights under the American with Disabilities Act and the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits employment-based discrimination. Workplace complaints to the UOAA are rare but they still occur. Read our self-advocacy resource here.“My coworkers all knew, especially of the trials and tribulations pre-op. But still, there was hostility and harassment at times.” Jacque- Retired Government.
- Dispose/Empty Your Pouch Properly: Investigate the best restroom/changing facilities to empty or change your pouch. Consider the use of pouch or ostomy deodorizer drops or spray, and plastic bags for disposal. “My purse contains a 1-ounce bottle of Poo-Pourri, a Tide pen, a lubricating deodorant sachet, and baby wipes.” Margie -Academia.
- Find the Best Clothing for Your Job: Consider loose clothing if sitting for long hours, or try a stoma belt if you have an active job. A skin barrier may be helpful if you perspire on the job. “I wear a hernia belt”- Megan-Nursing
- Don’t Stress Stoma Noise: If your stoma decides to speak up at the next meeting, relax. You may be the only one who notices “All bodies make sounds” Penny- Construction
- Hydrate: “Stay on top of your fluid intake. Don’t get distracted and have it result in an ER visit.” Heather Brigstock-Nursing
- Find Support: Know that you are not alone. UOAA has more than 330 affiliated support groups that offer advice, information and support.
With some preparation and patience you’ll soon be confident in the workplace, and for many, feeling in better health than before surgery.
UOAA promotes quality of life for people with ostomies and continent diversions through information, support, advocacy and collaboration. For more information, visit www.ostomy.org or call (800) 826-0826.
Next: Canines and Colon Cancer
By Geri Lynn Baumlatt, Executive Director Patient Engagement, Emmi
No one wants to be told it’s time to get a colonoscopy. “Do I really need it?” they ask. The Prep can be unpleasant, and the procedure embarrassing.
It’s no surprise people often cancel or skip scheduled appointments. It’s essential to make sure people know why they should get screened, but we also must walk people through the prep and address their concerns.
That’s why we created a multimedia program (see below) that helps people prepare for a colonoscopy. A common question not usually covered is, “If I have a hemorrhoid, will that cause pain during the colonoscopy?” Many people won’t ask that question—they simply don’t show up for their procedure. The good news is it shouldn’t hurt. Just bringing up this question beforehand and reassuring them can make a big difference.
Proactively answering questions and setting expectations has positive effects. When concerns about the experience are addressed, people are comfortable asking other questions. As one woman who viewed a program about an upcoming procedure said,
“This makes me feel like the few questions I have left won’t seem as out of place or stupid to nurses and doctors since some of them were already addressed in the program.”
But what about the dreaded prep?
Setting expectations helps. For most people, the prep is the worst part—so once you get through it, the worst is behind you. (Yes, the puns write themselves and humor can help as well.) It’s best to go beyond telling people to drink all the prep and to include tips to make it easier, like chilling it and drinking it through a straw.
It’s also helpful to let people know how they can tell when their colon is really clean. It’s reassuring to know you’re not going through the prep for nothing and that your doctor will be able to see your colon and reduce the need for a repeat colonoscopy. Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic used this multimedia program and found that patients were more likely to have satisfactory bowel prep and were less likely to need another colonoscopy.
Does this help patients and hospitals?
Yes. When people get friendly, patient-centered information that speaks to their questions, needs and concerns, they’re more likely to show up for their procedure. It also reduces their anxiety. One study showed that people who viewed the program were also:
- more knowledgeable about colonoscopy,
- needed less sedation medication (18%),
- and their procedure times were 14% shorter
Shorter procedures and less sedation also mean safer procedures.
Thoroughly explaining the procedure and talking candidly with patients can go a long way in making sure they show up for their colonoscopy and improving their experience.
Next: Young Onset Colon Cancer and Financial Struggles