Every morning I wake up, roll over to check my smartphone and find, on average, 22 new emails. I click on the mailbox icon with groggy enthusiasm imagining that 22 of my closest friends have taken the time to write me a letter while I slumber. My optimism is soon squashed by the reality that the majority are from big box stores reminding me of their not-so-rare 40% off sale, a few phishing folks claiming to be PayPal, Apple or the Canadian Revenue Agency and the occasional borderline-inappropriate joke from my dad.
The same pattern holds true about a trip to our mailboxes to see what Canada Post has in store for us at the end of the day. 80% looks like junk mail, some solicitations for a donations, hooray another home lottery, and a few other pieces that might look a little more legitimate, but our skeptical minds can never be too sure.
One sunny June day in 2014, Murray Harrison of Notre Dame de Lourdes got home from work and was sorting his mail, tossing most of it into a pile for the trash and setting aside some bills to look at later. A large envelope addressed to him from ColonCheck caught his attention, pausing while he contemplated which pile it should go into. Murray opened the large envelope which contained a home screening test and some information about screening for colon cancer. Though he didn’t know it at the time, it turned out to be the most life-altering piece of mail he had ever received. The healthy 50 year old had no symptoms of colon cancer, was an active husband and father just living life. “At first I thought about putting it in the garbage, but I knew my wife (a nurse) would shoot me if she finds out. I’m so glad I didn’t throw it out, it saved my life.”
A few weeks after mailing the test back, Murray got a call from ColonCheck to say his test result was abnormal and that he was scheduled for a follow-up colonoscopy. When he found out he had colon cancer the some fear was alleviated after he learned that the cancer was in its earliest stage.
According to Dr. Ross Stimpson, medical lead of CancerCare Manitoba’s ColonCheck program,”when colon cancer is detected in the earliest stage there is over a 90% chance of survival, and people don’t tend to have symptoms of the disease in the early stages.” This is why screening is so important.
Murray underwent a series of chemotherapy and radiation treatments and surgery in 2015. He is doing well now and is a vocal ambassador for colon cancer screening in Manitoba, both of which we are grateful for. “I’ve told everybody and anybody I’ve talked to that when ColonCheck sends you the test in the mail: do not throw it in the garbage! I’m grateful for that split second decision I made, it saved my life.”
ColonCheck mails home screening tests to Manitobans between 50-74 years of age. Regular screening can prevent colon cancer by finding and removing pre-cancerous polyps before they turn into cancer and it can help find cancers early, like in Murray’s case, when treatment is most effective.
If you’ve received a test in the mail thought is was junk mail, click this link and a replacement test will be mailed to you at no charge. www.getcheckedmanitoba.ca/getacolontest