Supersized colon centerpiece of event

Published 9:09 am Monday, April 21, 2014

Niles New Tech learners give tours of the ‘Super Colon” during a cancer awareness event Friday. (Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT)

Niles New Tech learners give tours of the ‘Super Colon” during a cancer awareness event Friday. (Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT)

The 20-foot long inflatable colon crammed into a gathering space at Niles New Tech Entrepreneurial Academy elicited a lot of stares, and even a few jokes on Friday.

It also got people talking about colorectal cancer and colon health.

That’s exactly what Lisa Redden, of Bayer HealthCare Oncology, was hoping for.

“It gets the community interacting and involved,” she said. “It’s amazing the discussions it sparks because colon cancer and other cancers are always something people are willing to talk about.

“The educational benefit comes with increasing awareness for colon cancer and making people aware that early detection leads to improved cure rates.”

Community members and students walked inside the “Super Colon,” which travels to various health fairs and educational events across the country. The interactive colon contained information about the different stages of colon cancer, colon health and visual representations of early polyps.

The appearance of the super colon coincided with a cancer awareness event put on by Niles New Tech freshmen in facilitator Matt Pagano’s Bio-Art class. Groups of learners researched one of the 12 most common types of cancers and presented their findings to those in attendance.

Freshman Camron Canniff said he learned that colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. Although it strikes mostly in people over 50, Canniff said he learned there are things he can do now to prevent it, like maintain a healthy diet.

“A lot of greasy, fatty foods can increase your risk, so it’s important to eat healthy,” he said.

Canniff also said that colon cancer is one of the most preventable cancers when caught early, making diagnostic tests like a colonoscopy a must for older people.

“If it is late stage, the chance of survival is much lower,” he said.

The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 126,000 new cases of colorectal cancers will be diagnosed this year alone.

Attendees also learned about the Brian Parker Foundation — a non-profit organization that strives to provide educational materials, research grants, monetary assistance and monetary support to those who have cancer by raising funds in response to area needs.

Representatives from Bayer HealthCare and Michiana Hermatology-Oncology assisted with the awareness event.