March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and the Colon Cancer Alliance is urging Americans to pay serious attention to the cancer which is the second-most deadly, behind only lung cancer. Renowned Atlanta jazz artist Joe Gransden nearly became a statistic of the cancer, even though he was 15 years shy of being due for his first colonoscopy.
"I wasn't even going to go to the doctor. I didn't have a lot of symptoms," said Gransden, now 43. At the time, in January of 2006, he was just 35 years old. "Physically, I was in good shape I thought. I wasn't supposed to get cancer. You're never the one to get cancer, it's always somebody else."
After an urging from his wife, he went to see a doctor and learned he had stage two colon cancer. "As soon as I was told I was probably going to die, that changes everything," he said. Gransden was in surgery 18 hours later, and underwent chemotherapy to be sure the cancer was clear. Eight years later, he is still in remission.
"(The cancer) slowed me down, it helped me to realize how important life is, how precious life is."
Adults over the age of 50 are encouraged to get a colonoscopy regardless of whether or not they show any symptoms. For people under the age of 50, the warning signs are fatigue, abdominal pain and blood in the stool. A fecal occult blood test, available at most drug stores, is an inexpensive way to screen yourself at home for possible blood in your stool.
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Thursday, March 27 2014 8:56 PM EDT2014-03-28 00:56:41 GMT
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