2013-03-28 / Columns

Food for Thought

By Carmen Rath-Wald





MARCH 2013

WHEREAS, colorectal cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer among men and women in North Dakota; and

WHEREAS, about 140 North Dakotans die from colorectal cancer each year; and

WHEREAS, there are often no symptoms of colorectal cancer; however, regular screenings can reduce the number of deaths from the disease by detecting cancerous or precancerous conditions early, when treatment is most effective; and

WHEREAS, if everyone 50 years of age or older had regular screening tests, as many as 60 percent of deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented; and

NOW, THEREFORE, as the Governor of the State of North Dakota, I do hereby proclaim March 2013, COLORECTALCANCER AWARENESS MONTH in the state of North Dakota.

Jack Dalrymple


There is a month for everything it seems and with March being proclaimed Colorectal CancerAwareness Month, the situation is ripe for comedians to build their repertoire of potty humor jokes. Embedded in the humor are the undeniable facts:

· Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer incidence and third leading cause of death in N.D.

· There are over 400 people diagnosed with colorectal cancer in ND each year; approximately 140 of these people will die from it.

· If everybody age 50 and older had regular screening tests, colorectal cancer could be reduced by 50 percent.

· The estimated cost of colorectal cancer annually in N.D. is $31.1 million.

· Of North Dakotans age 50 and older, 61 percent had received a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy in 2010.

Colorectal cancer often has no symptoms at all until it’s at an advanced stage.

Both men and women can get colorectal cancer.

· Colorectal cancer is most often found in people 50 and older.

· Risk increases with age.

· Risk increases with family history.

· Risk increases if you have

• History of adenomatous polyps

• Inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)

• Family history of colorectal cancer or polyps

• People with family history of hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes need to be followed by a specialist such as a gastroenterologist

You can reduce your risk through regular screening. (Discuss options available and checking on what your insurance covers).

Beginning at age 50 everyone should be screened for colorectal cancer.

. earlier if you have a family history

· Five year survival rate of colorectal cancer patients by stage at diagnosis in the US:

• Local – 90%

• Regional -68%

• Distant – 11%

While colonoscopies and sigmoidoscopies may be fodder for humorists, early detection of colon cancer can save lives.

I enjoy a blog by Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. with Mayo clinic and she writes in her October 23, 2010 post:

Humor can heal the soul, it’s true.

Many of you writing on the blog are using humor to deal with the reality of cancer. It seems like it’s worth talking about, because research has shown that humor and laughter can reduce stress, control pain, improve our immune system and promote healing.

When you laugh, it increases oxygen flow and circulation, lowers blood pressure and just makes you feel better. Think back to the last time you had a good laugh; how did you feel? Free from stress, happy, light-hearted and relaxed are a few feelings that come to mind. Laughter can give you a sense of release of emotions and can be a great distraction from a situation that is heavy and challenging.

Here’s a list of ways to incorporate moments of humor into daily life. See what you think. And, please feel free to add to this list.

Watch a funny movie and laugh out loud.

Laugh with friends — go for coffee together, talk a walk, go window shopping.

Take time to read the comic section of the paper every day.

Play games such as Pictionary, Bingo, Charades, Bowling ... anything that puts you in a situation of humor and fun.

Having cancer isn’t funny; it’s a serious and life-changing event. However, it might be worth a try to incorporate a little humor into your daily life.

NDSU has a circular which may be helpful in answering questions about colorectal cancer screenings, and you may request a copy by calling our office or going online to request: Answers That Can SaveYour Life – PDF FN 634.

If you have questions about this column, please contact me at the NDSU Extension Service office in Logan County located on the 2nd floor of the courthouse in Napoleon, call me at 701-754-2504 or email: carmen.rath.wald@ndsu.edu. I would be glad to help.

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