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March 30, 2021
by Melissa Landis

While coverage of COVID-19 dominated the public health news in 2020, there were also significant advances in Colon Cancer Awareness. And it may be just the momentum the GI community needs to push forward this year to increase screening numbers. Journey with PE GI Solutions through 2020 in the advancement of Colon Cancer Awareness and lessons learned.

Advancement of Colon Cancer Awareness Highlights in 2020

Colon Cancer Awareness Month Cut Short by COVID-19

Events marking Colon Cancer Awareness Month kicked off as usual in March 2020. PE employees joined advocates for colon cancer awareness nationally in celebrating Dress in Blue day on Friday, March 6. Just one week later, areas began to shut down and cancel most of the exciting events that usually bring together survivors and supporters to fundraise for colorectal cancer research and care.

Reopening Centers & Regaining Trust

After widespread closures of facilities and cancellations of elective procedures due to COVID-19, re-openings and re-organizing facilities in adherence to new protocols occurred on a state-by-state basis. On April 17, the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA) put their support behind following regional guidelines to reopen, reiterating that the safety of staff and patients alike remained a top priority. Immediately, centers began to do the extraordinary—modify their setup for social distancing, rework processes for fewer touch points, and bring in the extensive PPE and cleaning resources they needed. Regaining trust of patients in the importance of coming in for their preventative screenings began last spring but remains a priority in the year ahead.

Virtual Get Your Rear in Gear Is a Success

PE joined the Colon Cancer Coalition in fundraising efforts during the first-ever virtual Get Your Rear in Gear Event for the Philadelphia region.The PE team was the top fundraising team, raising over $15,000.

The event brought in over $140,000 to increase screenings and prevention of colorectal cancer.

Chadwick Boseman’s Battle with Colon Cancer

Perhaps the most memorable event bringing colon cancer to the forefront of so many Americans’ minds was the death of actor Chadwick Boseman. Known best for his role in Black Panther and as Jackie Robinson in 42, Chadwick Boseman secretly battled colorectal cancer from 2016–2020, leaving fans in awe at the news of his passing. Boseman’s death also brought to light the specific prevalence of colon cancer risk in Black men.

A Reminder to Share Family History

Just two short months after his brother Chadwick Boseman’s passing, NYC-based choreographer and performer Kevin Boseman revealed in October that he, too, had battled colorectal cancer. His news was much more positive—he was celebrating two years in remission! This news quickly sparked an important discussion on the increased risk of colon cancer that runs in families. PE joined the conversation with insights on the importance of sharing your family health histories.

Legislative Wins for Patients

The end of 2020 was a busy time for Congress, passing COVID-19 relief. But did you know that within the relief package passed on December 22 were two acts that will benefit colorectal cancer patients? Fight Colorectal Cancer advocated for these bills, among their breadth of work in patient advocacy, research, and prevention awareness, since 2012. The Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act directs the federal government to research and report on increasing the participation of traditionally underrepresented communities in clinical trials for cancer treatment options. The Removing Barriers to Colorectal Screening Act, nicknamed the “Medicare Loophole act,” will correct a Medicare loophole that unexpectedly billed patients for polyp removal occurring during a routine colonoscopy.

Moving Forward

While this Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month may look different, PE GI Solutions is inspired by the advancement of colorectal cancer awareness over the past year. We will continue the necessary conversations to advance colorectal cancer awareness through physician resources, patient advocacy, and research and treatment fundraising.