By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – March is colon cancer awareness month. It’s the second leading cause of cancer death, even though it’s very preventable.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women. Surviving often depends on early detection.
Andy Lara spends Thursday’s driving cancer patients at Philadelphia’s Hope Lodge to appointments, his way of giving back after being diagnosed with advanced colon cancer.
“Trust me I get more out of it than I give. Just for the good feeling that I’m helping people,” said Andy.
He spent a lifetime helping people, as a former Philadelphia police officer. Now a devoted grandfather, he made what could have been a fatal mistake of not taking his doctor’s advice.
“I should have gotten a colonoscopy years before. I didn’t listen to my doctor and the result is I had colon cancer,” said Andy.
Doctors say it can be easily prevented with a colonoscopy, which can find and remove pre-cancerous polyps.
“I think the big thing is with the colonoscopy a lot of people are afraid to get it done. They don’t want to get it done. They think it’s going to be uncomfortable,” said Mary Sonke, a Health Initiatives Representative with the American Cancer Society.
She, along with Andy, want people to understand the importance of overcoming fears about the screening.
“Don’t put it off. You think it’s not going to happen to you. It will happen to you,” said Andy.
Andy volunteers for the Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program. That provides 10,000 rides to cancer patients for treatment.
It’s recommended that everyone get a colonoscopy at age 50, unless there’s a family history or other risk factors. Be sure to talk with your doctor.
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