Lisa Denker knows the affects of losing someone to colon cancer. Her husband, Robert Lee Denker Jr., died Dec. 28, 2005, a little more than a year after being diagnosed.
"Thirty-nine is too young to die of cancer," Denker said at Tuesday evening's "Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back" 2008 American Cancer Society's Clay County Relay For Life team captain meeting in the lower level of Riddell National Bank. "Rob had yearly physicals, but his cancer was difficult to detect and wasn't found until the symptoms appeared, which was too late."
Medical officials believe the risk for colon cancer is linked genetically to families, which is why Denker said she is urging her three children to be tested in their 20s
Although medical personnel recommend individuals at average risk have a colorectal cancer screening at age 50, Denker believes the procedure should be done even earlier.
"I'd like to see insurance companies press for the screening process to be done earlier than that," she said. "Everyone needs to have a colonoscopy. Colon cancer is very real and it is disturbing to see information that confirms it is on the rise."
Denker shared with the group information provided by the American Cancer Society that estimates more than 50,000 people died from the colorectal cancer in 2007, and that wider use of proven screening tests could have saved more than half of those lives.
Although colorectal cancer screening rates have recently increased, the ACS estimates only half of men and women age 50 and older have been screened.
That is why Relay Chairperson Kathy White believes the 14-hour event is so important to the community.
"Relay is a great way to reach out and bring awareness to members of the community about various kinds of cancer they might not even think about," White said.
Founded in 1913, the American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy and service.
For more information anytime, call toll free 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit the ACS website located at www.cancer.org.
The 2008 Clay County Relay For Life 14-hour event is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m., May 3-4, at the Clay County YMCA. To learn more about Relay and how to participate, contact Kathy White at 446-9733 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by logging onto www.events.cancer.org/rflclaycoin.