I first heard about colon cancer at age 21.
"Andrea, your dad has Stage III," my mom cried over the phone on a warm spring day in 2003. My dad was 50 years old and had just had his first colonoscopy. He'd actually had symptoms for a year, but he'd chalked it up to an ulcer.
My dad - my hero - underwent surgery, chemo and radiation. He fought and fought, and in May 2010 he died.
That's what brings me here, to the Colon Cancer Prevention Project.
As the Project's new Executive Director, I want more than anything to help this strong grassroots group save others from getting this preventable cancer. It's one of the most easily avoidable cancers, yet it remains the 2nd leading cancer killer in Kentucky, Indiana and the entire United States.
My mission is simple: Let's spread the word about screening and prevention, help people get screened, and keep more people alive.
The Project has a long history of doing just that. Since Louisville Gastroenterologist Dr. Whitney Jones founded the Project in 2004, it has been a leader in Kentucky in increasing screening rates. So much of that success is because of our support system that includes volunteers, survivors, 5K walkers, donors, facilities and physicians.
The Colon Cancer Prevention Project is now known for its annual documentary, "Catching a Killer," its "Are you at Risk?" brochures that have been distributed across the country, its advocacy efforts to help people get screened, and its efforts to educate people about colon cancer prevention and screening.
As my dad's favorite band, The Beatles, sang, "Take a sad song, and make it better."
The Colon Cancer Prevention Project is ensuring that this sad song gets better – and that lives are saved.