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Have you hugged your colon today?

Once a year — usually during March, which is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month — I parade out a photo of my fine-looking colon to get your attention. (Yes, that is my actual colon above, as it appeared during my most recent colonoscopy, which was a little more than two years ago.)

No one likes to talk about colon cancer or colonscopies. OK, no one but me and Katie Couric. Be thankful I limit my coverage to still photos. Why am I so passionate about something that many people (wrongly) feel ashamed to talk about? Because I would rather talk about this disease and pay attention to this disease than die of it, which my mother did just about 26 years ago at the ripe old age of only 47.

If caught early, colon cancer is a curable disease. If not caught early, it will kill you. Sometimes very quickly. My mother had months not years, and not very good months considering what they did to try to save her. So, for your health, for your family, for anyone who cares about you, go get a colonoscopy as soon as you can if you are over 50 and have never had one, or if you are under 50 but have a family history of colon cancer or any diseases of the colon. It is not as bad as you would imagine. Really. I’ve had three so far and the advances they’ve made in the prep work that needs to be done is remarkable. The first two experiences were like night and day, and I can honestly say that I do not fear the next test, which will come up again in November. (I’m on a two-to-three year cycle of tests. Thanks, mom.)

In addition to getting a test to makes sure you don’t already have colon cancer or the polyps that can lead to cancer, you can also take some steps to try to prevent colon cancer. Increase fiber, decrease meat. Yes, that’s right. Cut down on meat. Do you think that’s just some vegetarian propaganda? Think again, and then read this article. Red meat is no friend to the colon. Cut it out or at least cut it down. High fat diets aren’t so great either. Click HERE to read about dietary suggestions for colon health.

If you want more information on the signs and symptoms of colon cancer, testing, prevention and more, go to the American Cancer Society by clicking HERE. Now, go call your doctor and make an appointment before I put up photos of someone’s unhealthy colon just to scare you.

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