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Nolan the Colon promotes colorectal cancer awareness


“Nolan the Colon” is returning to Southeast Alaska during October to help the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) launch a new colorectal cancer screening and awareness campaign
Nolan the Colon is an inflatable, interactive super colon, standing more than 14 feet tall and 25 feet long, designed to raise awareness about the importance of colorectal cancer screening. Nolan is big enough for people to walk through, so they can see what a healthy colon looks like and see how precancerous polyps can grow to become colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum) ranks among the leading causes of death for Alaska Natives, and Natives are twice as likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer as non-Natives.

The first appearance for Nolan on this trip to Southeast Alaska will be at the Sitka Community Health Fair from 7 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 1, at Harrigan Centennial Hall (this event is part of the Sitka Health Summit). Nolan also is scheduled to be at the Women’s Health Forum from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15, at Juneau’s Centennial Hall, and he’ll stick around from 3-8 p.m. that day so he can be available for people not involved with the Women’s Health Forum. Nolan is on loan from the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) during October and he will make appearances at local schools and in other Southeast communities at times/locations TBA.

Nolan’s return trip to Southeast Alaska is to help SEARHC promote its colorectal cancer screening program and the program’s new media campaign. The campaign will feature two fliers centered around Southeast Alaska Native arts — one targeting men that features Haines carver Wayne Price with the tagline “Carve Out Some Time For Your Health” and one targeting women featuring the weaving hands of Klukwan’s Lani Hotch with the tagline “Weaving Wellness Into Our Lives.” There also will be onscreen ads at the movies, newspaper ads, radio PSAs and a direct-mail piece. The campaign will promote a contest where program-eligible patients who schedule and complete their colonoscopies by Dec. 31 will be entered in a drawing to win 15,000 miles from Alaska Airlines, enough for one in-state round-trip ticket. Information about the drawing and the importance of colorectal cancer screening will be available at all of the Nolan the Colon events in October.

Colorectal cancer is one of the easiest cancers to prevent with a healthy lifestyle and appropriate screening. Colorectal cancer usually is found in people age 50 or older, but younger people can get it. The risk for colorectal cancer is higher for people who are obese or eat diets with lots of red meat or processed foods. Heavy alcohol use, tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke also increase the risk. The early stages of colorectal cancer have few symptoms, which makes screening more important. Precancerous polyps can be detected and removed during screening, before they become cancer. All adults age 50 or older should talk to their medical provider about screening, and so should younger adults with a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or bowel diseases.

For more information about the promotion or the Southeast tour of Nolan the Colon, please call SEARHC WISEWOMAN Women’s and Colorectal Health Programs Health Systems Specialist Becky (Koslovich) Martello at 966-8936. For more information about colorectal cancer and the SEARHC Colorectal Cancer Screening Program, talk to your SEARHC medical provider or call 966-8541.

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