Colon cancer strikes 1 of every 20 U.S. women and men in their lifetimes. Thankfully, most people survive the disease if it’s discovered early.
That’s what happened to Kathy Holliday, mother of St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday. The two are teaming up with the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, where Kathy was treated, to encourage colon screenings for anyone age 50 and older.
“It could save your life,” says Kathy Holliday, who was diagnosed with colon cancer last year but is cancer free after being treated by Washington University surgeon Steven Hunt, MD.
Matt Holliday and other family members were by Kathy
Holliday’s side after her surgery at Barnes-Jewish Hospital last
October. Hours later, he suited up for Game 4 of the National League
Championship Series against the San Francisco Giants.
“My mom is a fighter, a value she instilled in my brother and me,”
Matt Holliday says. “She also taught us the importance of giving back to
the community and looking out for others, which is why she and I are
involved in this cause.”
As part of the “Cancer Doesn’t Take a Holliday” campaign, Kathy and Matt Holliday recorded a public service announcement during spring training in Jupiter, Fla., that promotes colon cancer screenings. Watch the public service announcement, and hear Kathy and Matt share her colon cancer story.
The campaign also will include signed jersey and baseball giveaways and free tickets to the May 13 Cardinals game, where Siteman colon cancer experts will help call attention to the importance of screenings. The St. Louis Cardinals organization, another campaign partner, also is promoting screenings, as will billboards placed around eastern Missouri and southern Illinois.
“As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, we are focused on improving the health of our region,” Siteman director Timothy Eberlein, MD, says. “With Kathy and Matt Holliday at the center of this campaign, we aim to raise awareness about the importance of regular colon cancer screenings for everyone, beginning at age 50.”
Missouri and Illinois have two of the highest colon cancer death rates of any state, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of every 100,000 residents, more than 52 Missourians and more than 54 Illinoisans died of the disease in 2009, according to the latest available statistics. The national average is 49.2 colon cancer deaths per 100,000 people.
Colon cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and one of the most preventable, says Graham Colditz, MD, DrPH, a disease prevention expert at Siteman.
“Lowering risk is as simple as being physically active for 30 minutes a day or eating fewer than three servings of red meat per week,” he says. “Regular screenings, which can detect colon polyps before they turn cancerous, are essential, too.”
Colonoscopies remain the most effective type of colon screening and should be scheduled every 10 years. Less invasive tests also are available that can reduce the risk of colon cancer death.
“Any test you choose is better than none at all,” Colditz says.
Kathy Holliday did not receive a routine screening. Fortunately, ongoing fatigue prompted her to visit her doctor, who discovered the cancer at an early stage. Not everyone shows symptoms until later, sometimes not until it’s too late.
“As happy as I was to have Matt and the rest of our family by my side during my treatment, and to have received such great care from my doctors and nurses, cancer is a situation better avoided by everyone,” Kathy Holliday says. “That’s why I tell people to schedule regular screenings starting at age 50.”
“My mom and the rest of our family mean everything to me,” Matt Holliday says. “We are so grateful that her cancer was discovered as early as it was.”
For more information about colon cancer screenings, treatments or prevention, visit http://sitemanscreening.wustl.edu. To schedule an exam, call 314-454-7179.
Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked sixth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.
The Siteman Cancer Center, the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in Missouri, is ranked a top 10 cancer facility by U.S. News & World Report. Comprising the cancer research, prevention and treatment programs of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, Siteman is also Missouri’s only member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. For more information, visit http://www.siteman.wustl.edu or call (314) 747-7222 or 800-600-3606 toll-free.