It’s kind of funny if it wasn’t so sad (and potentially so deadly). It’s called a rectum. It’s the part of the intestines that lead to the little hole at the bottom of your tush that exits your body’s solid waste. Yes, it’s stinky. No, we don’t like to think about stinky things when we’re doing things like eating.
Why is the word so repugnant to say? It’s a body part. I find it hysterical when I’m asked my employer name for a form, and I answer, “Colorectal Cancer Coalition” and they say, “Colo… what?” “Colo. REC. TAL.” “How do you spell that, c-o-l-o what?” Internally, I laugh. They won’t say the word! Sometimes, if the mood is right I’ll joke, “Yes, I have one. So do you.”
Why do I bring this up. Farrah Fawcett. She has cancer. Everyone knows that. But what kind of cancer? Reports say that it’s cancer of the “lower intestines.” That’s the rectum, folks. Her treatment path is consistent with someone being treated for rectal cancer.
I’ll say what her press folks apparently can’t: Farrah Fawcett has rectal cancer. Google farrah fawcett rectal cancer and get only 710 hits. Google farrah fawcett lower intestinal cancer and get 13,100 hits. The power of a word.
While I respect her privacy, and I am praying for her speedy recovery, I wish she would have called it what is. If she had breast cancer, would her press engine report it as “cancer in her upper torso”? When a celebrity gets sick, people talk about it. There is general information publicized about the condition along with risks and symptoms. Look at what Michael J. Fox did for Parkinson’s awareness even before he became an advocate? Is the person who wrote her press release ashamed of the fact that a former pin-up queen has cancer in an icky part?
I hope that as Farrah goes through her treatment and recovery she realizes that it’s not a word to be hidden in the “lower intestines.” Maybe she’ll even be frustrated by the lack of attention on the disease. People aren’t talking about it enough and people are dying.
My dad used to say that no one should have to die of embarrassment. Amen.