Wilkes to Go Blue for Colorectal Cancer Awareness

by Kelly Clisham

While college students have plenty on their minds, colorectal cancer doesn’t usually make that list. Colorectal cancer, also referred to as colon cancer, is rare for young adults, with doctors recommending screenings beginning at age 45. Still, with colon cancer as the second leading cause of cancer death in Pennsylvania, it’s never too early to promote awareness and healthy habits.

In honor of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Wilkes University is collaborating with Mayor George C. Brown, the City of Wilkes-Barre and other local colleges, universities and health care organizations for an educational initiative inspired by Brown’s daughter, Aimee Kearney.  

Kearney will share her journey from her colorectal cancer discovery through treatment, surgeries and recovery to her cancer-free status during Aimee’s Story at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20. She hopes that her story will inspire other young adults to recognize the symptoms and get screened. “If you won’t get screened for yourself, do it for your family,” says Kearney. “They want you to be healthy and make many more memories with them.” 

The program will feature a panel discussion led by Wilkes-Barre native Thomas Mangan, M.D., an emeritus gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. The panel will include Geisinger physicians Julie Jiang, M.D., Thomas Erchinger, M.D., Ahmad Hanif, M.D. and Duane Deivert, D.O. and Commonwealth Health physicians Karthik Penumetsa, M.D. and Essam Almeky, M.D.

For Wilkes, the chance to help spread the word about Aimee’s Story and participate in the community-wide wellness conversation made perfect sense. “You’re really never too young for cancer awareness,” says Mike Wood, special assistant to the president. “We always want to be in a position to partner with the mayor, and his daughter’s situation was inspiring to us. When he mentioned getting involved, Wilkes was immediately on board.”

Wilkes also encourages students, faculty and staff to make healthy choices surrounding diet, exercise, alcohol and tobacco consumption which may help lower the risk of colorectal cancer. People of all ages should watch for symptoms including changes in bowel movements, blood in the stool, constipation, abdominal pain and unexpected weight loss, and contact a health care provider immediately about any concerns. Regardless of your age, don’t be embarrassed to have a conversation with loved ones about risk factors, symptoms and screenings

Weckesser Hall will light up blue to spread awareness about colorectal cancer. Here’s how Colonels can help do their part:

You may also like