Dress in Blue Day

dress-in-blueWear pink! We’ve all seen the signs, and many of us have worn pink clothing and ribbons each October during Breast Cancer Awareness month. But dress in blue? What’s that all about?

Last April,in a post here entitled, The One We Don’t Like to Talk About, I announced that I was a one year colon cancer survivor. I’m now edging up on my two-year anniversary (and am currently remembering in vivid detail the horrid weeks leading up to my eventual diagnosis and surgery). So for me, this seems like the perfect time to focus attention once again on colon cancer, because this Friday is Dress in Blue Day, and March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month.

Just as the focus on wearing pink has been used to draw attention to breast cancer, the aim of Dress in Blue Day is to promote awareness of colon cancer, and to encourage more individuals to get the tests that can detect colon cancer in its very early stages.

No, colon cancer isn’t as easy to talk about as breast cancer, and its definitely not one that we as women rally around. In fact, one of the counselors I saw at the local cancer center talked about breast cancer survivor envy. This is the envy that some women survivors of other cancers — such as colon cancer — feel for all of the attention focused on breast cancer. For women of a certain age, the situation is rather ironic. Not all that long ago, no one liked to talk about breast cancer either. Rates of mammograms were lower, the treatments were pretty scary, and the survival rates weren’t that great. Fortunately, things are different now.

I’m delighted at the progress made with breast cancer; I have benefited from it personally. In addition to being a two-year colon cancer survivor, this summer I will be an eleven-year breast cancer survivor. Thanks to the progress made during my lifetime, my breast cancer was detected early — very early — and I had a relatively easy treatment. None of those things were available for women 30 or 40 years ago. I hope to see similar progress for colon cancer.

But to get that progress, we have to talk openly about colon cancer. Based on previous reader surveys, the majority of AAR’s readers aren’t yet old enough for the initial screenings for colon cancer. The standard recommendation now is to have a first colonoscopy at 50, unless there’s a history of colon cancer in your family. But if you’re not personally old enough yet for the tests, you can still talk to your parents, or grandparents, or aunts and uncles about it. Ask them if they’ve had their first colonoscopy. If not, encourage them to talk to their doctor about it.

Can wearing blue this Friday make a difference? Frankly, anything that gets more people talking about colon cancer has to help. So I’ll be wearing blue, and I’ll be telling people why I’m wearing it. After all, when people first started wearing pink ribbons, I thought it was a bit silly. I was wrong.

LinnieGayl

15 thoughts on “Dress in Blue Day

  1. Tee

    Congratulations, once again, LinnieGayl, for all the progress you have made in both of these illnesses. I remember your blog from last year. It is people such as you who stir us up periodically to sit up and take notice of ourselves and our bodies. That awareness saves lives because we are realizing more and more that early detection is key. As much as we don’t want to hear any negative diagnosis at a checkup, we must realize that it’s exactly for that reason we go. For the earlier we catch it, the more success we’ll have in eradicating and/or controlling it.

    I went for a typical and faithful yearly pelvic exam last March. Some peculiarities were discovered (not in the colon) and we were off to the races for the next three months. I’m happy to say that, eventually (with an operation), all was resolved as well as it could be. I had no clue at that initial examination (exhibiting no symptoms) and was thankful that the doctor was so alert at the time.

    So I am a true supporter of following recommendations on consistent examinations, especially in the areas where they are highly recommended.

  2. Jane AAR

    Congratulations, LinnieGayl — both on being a survivor of both forms of cancer, and for being willing to talk about it. Honesty and openness is what truly raises awareness.

    And Tee, I’m glad you too are better.

  3. LeeB.

    Excellent column LinnieGayl! I have friends and co-workers who don’t even want to go in for a colonoscopy which is just so stupid. And of course some don’t even want to go in for mammograms either. Oi!

    Congrats on being a survivor of colon and breast cancer!

  4. Missie

    Linnie, I will happily and proudly wear blue and let all and sundry know that it is for Colon Cancer Awareness and that it is Colon Cancer Awareness Month.

    I am so, so, SO glad that you were finally properly diagnosed and that you are a survivor — a double survivor now, bless your heart.

    I hope you don’t let those nightmare memories overshadow the joy I want you to have now at being here, ‘though I know it can be difficult not to. *hugs*

  5. AARPat

    Congratulations to LinnieGayl, Tee, and all the survivors!

    What they don’t tell you about a colonoscopy:
    — It doesn’t hurt at all
    — The worst part is the prep which seems to take forever
    — The procedure doesn’t take long at all
    — It can save mental distress as well as your life

    What do I mean by the last statement? Diagnosing a health problem often takes quite a while, so during that time, the worry and anxiety as you go over the best and worst case scenarios is pretty scary. Because of the distress, you can lose sleep, develop other symptoms related to stress, and even related medical problems. So having the colonoscopy can put your mind at rest.

    I’ll be wearing blue tomorrow. Maybe I should become the poster girl for the cause since I wear blue every day!

  6. Tee

    AARPat: Congratulations to LinnieGayl, Tee, and all the survivors!

    I need to add that my condition was definitely not cancer, although initially that was not known. I can definitely attest to the mental anguish part of an unknown diagnosis that you mention in your post, though, Pat. You go through the wringers until every last result is in.

  7. LinnieGayl AAR Post author

    Thank you so much, Lee, Sandy, AARPat, and Missie. I appreciate your support.

    And AARPat is exactly right about the colonoscopy. It really takes virtually no time at all, and definitely doesn’t hurt. And yes, the prep is really obnoxious, but I’d do it every month if it meant finding any tumors in an early stage, or even as polyps.

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