It's March…do you know where your colon is?

March is colorectal cancer awareness month, so it’s time for my obligatory “message” post…I’ll go back to posting about how I do what I do tomorrow…now it’s about what and why I do it…

It’s an interesting time for us, because we concentrate more on prevention and screening than we typically do in the other 11 months. People diagnosed with colorectal cancer are dealing with it 12 months a year, not just in March. It’s not that we don’t care about prevention and screening, we do. A lot. We know that colorectal cancer is preventable if the pre-cancerous polyps are removed, and the best way to remove those polyps is during a colonoscopy. We know that only 45% of people who should be screened are getting screened. And we know that there are significant barriers to screening, not the least of which is that your insurance company may not be required to cover your colonoscopy. Or they’ll cover the colonoscopy, but you’re on your own for the sedation. Ridiculous.

So like we did last year, we’re partnering with EIF/NCCRA (National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance…yes, Katie’s group) and other organizations to present the 2007 Legislative Report Card. I’ve created some action alerts on our site, so if you live in a B, C, D or F state you can get directly in contact with your state legislators and urge them to introduce or support bills that provide coverage of colorectal cancer screening.

Our big thing this March is our “Call-On Congress” grassoots advocacy training and lobby day. We’re bringing 30 advocates from all over the country together for 3 days in DC, starting on March 18th. On March 19th we’ll have training, and then on March 20th we’re all heading to Capitol Hill for meetings. This year, the National Cancer Institute saw a cut in their budget. A cut! This is from the same administration that said, “To win the war on cancer, we have to fund the war on cancer.” We don’t know what the full shakedown will be, but initial reports estimate that publicly-funded research trials will be cut by 20% to make up for the shortfall. Unreal. On March 20th while we’re having our Capitol Hill meetings, we’re asking for folks back home to pick up the phone and call Congressional offices to ask for more funding for cancer research.

So yes, while it’s awareness month and that means educating the general public on how the disease can be PREVENTED through screening, don’t forget that there are still too many people DYING from the disease. We can’t ignore them while we work on getting everyone screened. We need research to fight the disease once it gets past the polyp stage, and we need research for less expensive and less invasive screening methods.