Three Turlock community leaders have partnered with Emanuel Medical Center to encourage people to get colorectal screenings.
Turlock Mayor John Lazar, Dr. Curt Andre, former mayor of Turlock, and Dennis Cornwall, retired educator and coach, are sharing their stories for the “Get in the Game – Get Checked” campaign to help prevent cancer.
“I got checked so I could walk my two daughters down the aisle,” said Andre, who got his health wake-up call at national mayors meetings.
“I started to notice that some mayors who had come into office about when I did weren’t there anymore,” he said. “They’d had serious health issues and some had died.”
So Andre started making changes.
“I got my blood pressure under control. I started working out with a personal trainer. And I got a colonoscopy. I value a high quality of life, and that doesn’t happen by accident,” he said. “You have to work on maintaining good mental, physical and spiritual health.”
Lazar’s children were also part of his decision to focus on maintaining good health.
“I got checked so I could watch my three boys grow into successful young men,” he said.
Lazar learned the value of taking care of his health from his father, who had several health issues as a fairly young man.
“He took control of it and that was a good example for me,” Lazar said. “He was very pragmatic in his view that you shouldn’t be afraid to seek medical advice and assistance.”
Lazar has. During his first colonoscopy, doctors found and removed some small polyps – growths that can become cancerous if undiscovered.
“I’m really concerned about being proactive and knowing any signs of abnormal issues,” he said. “The sooner something is detected, the sooner it can be addressed.”
Cornwall is retired from teaching, but maintains a very active life including skiing in the winter, fly fishing in the summer and being grandpa year-round.
“I got checked so I could teach my grandkids how to fly fish,” he said.
He’s had three colonoscopies, and has advice for anyone who has been putting it off.
“Don’t be afraid,” he said. “The way they do it now it so much easier — it’s totally painless. I’ve had three.”
Getting colorectal screenings can prevent cancer and save lives. Something this needed as nationwide there will be 150,000 new cases of colorectal cancers this year — the third most common cancer (excluding skin cancer) and second leading cancer killer. Despite these statistics, fewer than half of Americans over 50 get colonoscopies — screenings that not only detect cancer, but also remove growths that can become cancerous.
“Colorectal cancers are highly preventable,” said Dr. Isaac Faraji, a gastroenterologist and Emanuel’s medical chief of staff. “It’s common, but highly preventable. In patients who do develop cancer, if it’s diagnosed at an early stage, it’s 90 percent curable.”
For more information, to search for a doctor by specialty or location, or for an online symptom-checker, visit www.emanuelmedicalcenter.org.