CARMEL, Ind. -- Carmel resident Jenny Ward is taking her own personal story of devastating loss and turning it into a mission to save lives through increased colon cancer screening.
After losing her mother to colon cancer several years ago, Ward is now organizing "Get Your Rear in Gear," a 5K run/walk to raise money and increase screening for colon cancer in the Indianapolis community. The event, which is being held on Oct. 14, is moving to Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis. More than 400 runners, walkers, colon cancer survivors, and caregivers are expected to come together for the run/walk.
“I didn’t see myself as an advocate until my mother was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer in 2013,” Ward said. “Now I tell everyone I see about the importance of colon cancer screening, taking care of your health, and listing to your body. I believe that by talking openly about colon health and the importance of colon cancer screening, we can increase screening for this preventable disease and save lives.”
Pictured above: Mary Shea, Jenny Ward's mother
Colon cancer is the nation's No. 2 cancer killer for men and women combined, behind only lung cancer. Traditional screening for colon cancer is the colonoscopy, which can actually prevent cancer by removing pre-cancerous polyps during the procedure, but there are also many other screening options that are less invasive and effective at finding early stage cancer. The only way to find cancer early is through on-time screening.
“We know how to detect and prevent colon cancer when it is discovered in its earliest and most treatable stages,” said Anne Carlson, Executive Director for the Colon Cancer Coalition. “By placing our focus on increasing screening rates and educating the public about the signs and symptoms, we look to prevent this disease before it happens. Indiana’s colorectal cancer screening rate is only 63%, meaning 37% of the population eligible for screening is not being proactive and taking care of their health. This screening rate ranks 42nd in the U.S. By working with partners in Indianapolis we hope to encourage change and increase the local rates to at least 80%.”
Added to this year’s "Get Your Rear in Gear" event is a Kids’ Fun Run, a short race especially for kids 12 and under.
The Kids’ Fun Run is at 9 a.m., followed by the timed 5K run at 9:15 a.m. and the 5K walk shortly after.
In addition to the run/walk, you can stroll through a giant inflatable colon and see what a doctor sees during a colonoscopy – from a healthy colon wall to how a polyp progresses from harmless into Stage IV colorectal cancer.
You can also walk the Blue Mile and see tributes to those lost and messages honoring survivors of colon and rectal cancer.
The facts about colon cancer:
- One in 20 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer during their lifetime.
- 9 out of 10 patients will survive 5+ years when colon cancer is caught in early (localized) stages.
- Screening for colon cancer should start at age 50, earlier for some ethnic groups and those with family history.
- The Journal of the American Medical Association estimates a 90% increase in colon cancer and a 124% increase in rectal cancer diagnoses in young people by 2030.
Registration and additional information is available at ColonCancerCoalition.org/Indianapolis.