Early diagnosis, treatment of colorectal cancer can save many

 

Cancer.

Few words strike greater fear in our hearts.

It’s a word millions hear annually. And, with that single pronouncement lives are changed forever. Not just those stricken with the dread disease, but also their loved ones, friends and others around them.

Being around cancer survivors, though, can hearten even the most jaded individual. Talk about courage. Talk about strength. These people are incredible.

Few things can make you feel more insignificant than encountering someone who has faced bigger challenges than you’ve ever known — and come through them with a smile. That’s what I’ve found recently in talks with several area cancer survivors.

These men and women have a story to tell and, despite the normal fears of baring your soul about personal struggles, each of them has stepped forward, volunteering to appear in a series of public service messages to encourage increased awareness of cancer, particularly colorectal cancer.

Our friends at the South Georgia Endoscopy Center in Waycross sponsor these messages each year in the hope that more of us will follow the simple steps toward early detection of possible colorectal cancer. March is set aside each year to promote awareness of this form of the illness that is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths across our nation. Approximately 60,000 people die each year from colorectal cancer.

That’s a dreadfully sad statistic. What may be sadder, though, is the fact many of these deaths were entirely preventable. Early diagnosis and treatment of this disease produces a high rate of recovery.

Survivors impressed me with the simplicity of their overwhelming desire to save others from having to go through what they have already experienced. Something about surviving the scourge of cancer seems to inspire a driving passion to save others.

“Don’t wait.” “Forget your fears.” “I wish someone had told me — no, made me get checked earlier.” 

Those are just a few of the comments these brave souls made to me. The passion in their voice, the pleading, touched me.

They’re begging us to listen. For our own good.

An old Travis Tritt country music song talks about being “10-feet tall and bulletproof.”

Most of us see ourselves like that, until someone, or something comes along and shoots down the absurd notion. 

The smartest among us will know better. They know cancer always takes deadly aim. And it’s up to only us to make sure it misses.

• Starting in next week’s issue, watch for testimonials on the importance of early checkups and treatment.

• Robert M. Williams, Jr. is Editor & Publisher of The Blackshear Times. Email: rwilliams@theblacksheartimes.com.

Robert M. Williams, Jr. can be reached at rwilliams@theblacksheartimes.com.