Peanuts and Colon Cancer ©

No, the peanuts we eat don’t cause colon cancer, at least not to my knowledge they don’t.  The Peanuts I’m talking about here is the beloved comic strip so many of us seniors enjoyed for so long. So what’s the connection between Peanuts © and colon cancer? 

Charles M. Schulz, the man behind the legendary comic strip “Peanuts,” brought Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, and Snoopy to readers in 75 countries in thousands of newspapers each week for nearly 50 years. Schulz wrote his last “Peanuts” strip in November 1999 following his diagnosis of colon cancer. He passed away shortly after in February 2000.

That’s part of why I’ve scheduled a colonoscopy for this week. Not that I was ever an avid reader but I know lots of people were. The main reason I went to the doctor to inquire was because of recent changes in GI tract activity. I can’t believe I’m writing about this in the paper; I’m sure my teenaged granddaughters would be horrified…..

But we seniors have “Seen and heard it all” as they say so there is no reason to be red-faced at any of this. I’m simply writing to give you a gentle reminder that a colonoscopy is  recommended to check for colon cancer if you’re 45 or older. If someone in your family has had colon cancer, rectal cancer, or polyps, you should talk with your doctor about when to have your first screening.  At the very least you should visit WebMD online which is where most of this column comes from.

How Often Do You Need to Screen?

If your colonoscopy results are normal, you should have your next colonoscopy in 10 years. If you have small polyps, you should retest in 5 to 10 years. Large polyps or many polyps mean you may need a colonoscopy more often. If you’re 75 or older, talk with your doctor about whether you need to continue screening.

https://www.webmd.com/colorectal-cancer/ss/slideshow-colonoscopy-expect

Just to show you that this disease is no respecter of persons, I thought you might be interested to hear about some other famous people who have had to deal with colon cancer as well. So here goes:

Ronald Reagan, the 40th president lived the American Dream. He rose from a poor childhood to become a Hollywood film star then claimed the Oval Office. Early in his second term, doctors found a growth in his large intestine. They removed the polyp and nearly 2 feet of intestine. The president’s public experience helped to raise awareness about this type of cancer.

Vince Lombardi, the longtime Green Bay coach achieved legendary status not just for his winning record but for his ability to motivate and inspire others. Under his command in the 1960s, the Packers won five NFL championships and two Super Bowls. Lombardi’s colon cancer was aggressive, and despite two surgeries, he passed away in 1970.

Katie Couric, the TV host  never had colorectal cancer herself, but she lost her husband, Jay Monahan, to the disease just months after his diagnosis in 1997. Since then, Couric has led an awareness campaign for colon cancer screenings and co-founded a cancer treatment center in her late husband’s name. She had a colonoscopy on live TV in 2001 when she was a Today show co-host. Her efforts led to a 20% jump in the number of screenings in the U.S.

I don’t plan to have mine done on live TV; this column is as close as I plan to a public disclosure. But I highly recommend that you go  through the WedbMD slide show at https://www.webmd.com/colorectal-cancer/ss/slideshow-colonoscopy-expect. There are only 16 slides and it will only take a few minutes of your time but it could save your life or make life much more healthy for you or your senior.

Thanks for reading All about Seniors…..see you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com 

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