Shoppers may have been surprised to see a 20-foot-tall inflatable colon in the center of Ashland Town Center on Monday afternoon.
The “Incredible Colon” was just a part of the “Dress in Blue for Colon Cancer Awareness” exhibit, hosted by Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in conjunction with the Kentucky Cancer Program as part of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Visitors were encouraged to walk through the large pink inflatable, which showed what a healthy colon looks like compared to a colon with polyps, Crohn’s disease or advanced colon cancer.
“People want to see what it (the inflatable) is all about,” said Angela Wells-Coburn, director of marketing and communication at OLBH. “If you walk through, it starts as a normal colon and then shows colon cancer and Crohn’s disease. It’s not something you get to see every day.”
A couple hundred people stopped by to look at the exhibit, including school groups and curious shoppers, Wells-Coburn said.
The inflatable has been making its way through northeastern Kentucky to teach the importance of colon screenings, making stops in Lawrence and Carter counties earlier this month.
Becky Simpson, a cancer control specialist with the KCP, said the traveling inflatable has yielded an overall good response.
“The important thing is that people get screened. People ages 50 to 64 and with no insurance can call the Greenup County Health Department for a free screening,” Simpson said.
Also at the colon exhibit was a display, Faces of Colon Cancer, featuring photos and stories of cancer survivors from each of eastern Kentucky’s eight Area Development Districts. Wayne Stephenson of Greenup County represented the FIVCO district.
Dr. Tim Jones, a general surgeon at OLBH, said it is important for those 50 and older and those at high risk, such as those with family members who have had colon cancer, to get regular colon screenings. He stressed early detection is critical.
“It’s safer and easier to remove a polyp than cancer,” Jones said. “It’s safe and effective. ... Get them (colonoscopies) done. The more people who are aware, the better. It (a colonoscopy) is not as difficult as people think.”
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both the United states and Kentucky. From 2005-09, 474 were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 157 died from the disease in the FIVCO district.
For more information, call the KCP at (606) 793-7006 or OLBH at (606) 833-2273 or visit olbh.com.
SHANNON MILLER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2657.