I loved my mother dearly, more than anything. I miss her voice and the way she used to sing to me. She is an irreplaceable woman and there is not a day that goes by that I don't think about her. I lost my mom to colon cancer after a six-year-hard fought battle with the disease. She died too young. She was diagnosed at age 50 and gone by 56.
My mom was a woman of incredible strength. She shaped me to be the person I am today and I am forever grateful to her. While I hate that I've lost her, she would love to know that her death -- her battle with colon cancer -- is able to save other lives.
In honor of my kind and gentle mom, I have joined with The Colon Cancer Alliance to share my story and encourage you and your loved ones to get screened appropriately for this disease. It's a cancer that is largely preventable if detected early. Recommended screening starts at age 50, however looking back, my mom probably should have been placed in a high-risk category and should have started screenings earlier. If she had, she might have been alive today.
Colon cancer is not a subject to be avoided. If you have a family history of the disease you should start getting screened earlier than 50. I actually had my first colonoscopy at age 40. While I may have been a little apprehensive, it was really no big deal.
Beyond family history, other factors may help determine when you should be screened. So find out if you are at higher risk. For instance, African Americans have the highest incidences of colon cancer. As a result, some organizations have actually changed their guidelines encouraging African American patients to begin screening at age 45.
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. In honor of my mom and the thousands of other people who have lost their battle to this disease, it's time to be proactive. I've talked to everyone in my family about the importance of screening. Make it a priority to talk to yours. Pledge to get screened. When you do, you will be helping to support the important work of The Colon Cancer Alliance.
No more excuses, get screened. It can be a matter of life or death.
Terrence's story originally ran on March 6, 2013 in the Huffington Post.