About a year ago, Baton Rouge attorney Warner Delaune thought it might be wise to get screened for colon cancer.
Even though it’s generally recommended that such screenings begin at age 50, Delaune, then 48, knew there was some history of colon cancer in his family.
It also happened to be March, designated as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and Delaune was seeing lots of information about the importance of screening.
“Maybe this is a sign,” Delaune said he thought to himself at the time, only half joking.
He made an appointment and went in for his first colonoscopy. During the procedure, the doctor saw something “he wasn’t sure about,” Delaune said.
The report on a subsequent biopsy was inconclusive, so Delaune went back two weeks after his first colonoscopy for a second colonoscopy and another biopsy.
He remembers the challenge of having to prep once again by downing the obligatory unpleasant-tasting drink that cleanses the intestines before the procedure.
But it was worth it.
The results of the second biospy revealed that Delaune had very early stage colon cancer.
He underwent surgery to remove the cancer. Complications of surgery, unrelated to cancer, followed, and Delaune had to have a second surgery that lengthened his recovery time.
But he’s doing well now.
Looking back at his initial decision to have a colonoscopy, Delaune said, “I had no symptoms. This was a purely routine colonoscopy.”
He’s learned, he said, that “it’s incumbent on patients themselves to know their family history.”
To promote prevention and early detection of colon cancer, the Get Your Rear in Gear Baton Rouge organization will hold its third annual 5K Run/Walk & Kids’ Fun Run on Saturday. Registration begins at 7 a.m. at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
Get Your Rear in Gear events nationally are overseen by the Colon Cancer Coalition.
Dr. Kelly Finan, a local colon and rectal surgeon, has chaired the Baton Rouge run/walk since its inception.
“It’s almost doubled participation from its first year,” Finan said.
“We’re really hoping we’re getting the word out” about colon cancer prevention and screening, she said.
Among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in this country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For people at average risk, screening is recommended beginning at age 50, according to the CDC.
“If everyone who is 50 years or older were screened regularly, as many as 60 percent of deaths from this cancer could be avoided,” said the CDC at its website, http://www.cdc.gov.
People who are at increased risk of colon cancer, because of such factors as family history, as in Delaune’s case, should talk to their doctor about when and how often to be screened, the CDC said.
The money raised through the Get Your Rear in Gear Baton Rouge event has funded an educational series that aired on WBRZ-TV last year and won awards from the Louisiana Medical Association and the American Society of Colorectal Surgery, Finan said.
A second educational series aired on WBRZ this week, during the 5 p.m. news, Finan said. The last one in this series will be on Friday. May 8 at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
Cancer survivor, author and comedian Brenda Elsagher will be the guest speaker.
Of the funds raised at the Get Your Rear in Gear event each year, “75 percent stays locally,” Finan said.
Funding from the local Get Your Rear in Gear event has also helped Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge have the input of an ostomy nurse for its clients and fund a colorectal cancer support group, among other things.
This year, Cancer Services and Get Your Rear in Gear will also host “A Night for Colon Cancer Awareness” at 6 p.m.