(Memphis) Behind the West Clinic, Deborah Echols, her niece Jerrika Williams and her goddaughter Kortneay Smith are on a potentially lifesaving field trip.
Jerrika’s mom died of colon cancer, and her aunt wants her to learn as much as she can about this devastating disease.
“It was devastating. My sister was only 43 years old when we found out. My sister died in 2010 from colon cancer and I just kind of want to use this outing to educate her more about her body and things to check,” Echols said.
They and others are walking through this larger than life, three-dimensional, 20-foot traveling inflatable colon. It’s here to kick off National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
Jerrika learned about polyps, cancer, and the importance of screenings.
“Then if you don’t get that removed, it comes to advance colon cancer when it gets really messed up in your body and that something you don’t want,” Jerrika Williams said.
“Definitely, I go for my colon screening. They say every five years, but we go every three because of my sister, her death,” Echols said.
Many people are intimidated or fear colonoscopies, but colon cancer is 90 percent preventable if detected early.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States.
Tennessee ranks 42 out of 50 states in terms of age adjusted cancer deaths from colon cancer.
Dr. Brad Somer is a medical oncologist at the West Clinic.
“Over 50 is when you start getting screen, but if you have family history or a condition that predisposes you to cancer, you might want to get it earlier than that,” Somer said.
It’s hoped this different view of a giant colon exhibit can perhaps help save lives.
“This is your life. This is preventable, if you do what you’re supposed to do and just be screened,” Echols said.