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Happy Dress in Blue Day! This special day began with Anita Mitchell, a stage IV colon cancer survivor. Ms. Mitchell saw a need to bring greater awareness to a cancer not many people wanted to discuss. What started in her child's classroom in 2006 is now a nationally-recognized event where individuals across the country unite to celebrate and honor those who have battled this disease and work to knock it out of the top three cancer killers for good. Hear more from Anita.

Tell us more about the start of Dress in Blue Day.

When you have colorectal cancer and you’re a woman, you instantly feel like you’re back in high school and have just been put in the non-cool group in the lunchroom. There are no pretty pink ribbons, no princess tiaras, no 2-day walks, cute goody baskets, and when I was diagnosed 10 years ago, there were very few support groups. Even when I meet my doctor, it’s not on the women’s cancer clinic floor.

This really didn’t bother me at first, until I learned the facts about colon cancer. It is ranked second in cancer-related deaths in US, yet no one seems to know just how common it is. Some people are shocked that women even get it. The more I learned about colon cancer and how, by increasing screening rates, we could really change the number of diagnoses, I was outraged that so many people didn’t know about this disease or the need to get screened. This led me to take action.

I started Dress in Blue Day at my children’s school nine years ago, before bringing the concept to the Colon Cancer Alliance in 2009. I was the third parent under 50 diagnosed there. I had been very close to one of the parents we lost and my own father had died from this disease when I was young, yet I had no clue of the symptoms or screening guidelines. My case was preventable; to me this seemed crazy. Why are we not talking about this? So, I started getting people talking.

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What’s your take on the color blue?

I once heard a great doctor talk about how we needed to go back to the brown ribbon and make it scratch and sniff. While it was very funny and made us laugh, I had to address it. I went up after his talk and teased him saying we already have been diagnosed with the crappy cancer; at least we deserve a good color.

What would you like to see for the future of Dress in Blue Day?

Keep using the color blue and add the NCCRT Blue Star of Hope in there too. Let’s make our efforts stand out! As we continue to expand on Dress in Blue Day year after year, awareness will continue to grow and flourish. As awareness increases, the questions of why the cities are turning blue will decrease; as awareness increases, we will see the numbers of deaths decrease. Let's do this!

As far as I am concerned, blue is the new black. If you don’t believe me, come see my closet!

The Dress in Blue Lady
Anita Mitchell- Isler
10 year stage IV cancer survivor!

Don’t forget, the Colon Cancer Alliance serves as a source of information about colon health. If you have additional questions about colon cancer screening or are in need of support, please contact our free Helpline at (877) 422-2030. We’re here to help.  

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