Visiting Michigan’s U.P. with the Prevent Cancer Super Colon

Published on August 3, 2011

Updated on February 13, 2018

“So, Cheryssa, how are things down in DC?” Since I moved down to the city less than a year ago, this is a question I still get asked very often by friends and family. Over the last few months I’ve been able to give them quite an update – “It’s great! I travel with a giant colon that people walk through!”

The Prevent Cancer Super ColonTM is definitely a sight to see! At 8 feet tall and 20 feet long, it is – literally – a giant colon that people walk through. As part of the Prevent Cancer Foundation staff, I knew that we used this exhibit to promote colorectal cancer awareness and screening guidelines but it was only a few months ago that I started traveling with it. Until that time, I never would have thought I would be having conversations with people on topics ranging from daily fiber intake to colonoscopies!

I recently had the privilege of working with Noel Pingatore of the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan to bring the Prevent Cancer Super Colon to five different cities in Michigan. Below are some of the highlights from the first two stops.

I flew into Sawyer International Airport way up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (“the U.P.”). With only two gates and one baggage claim area, the airport was different from other airports I have used. A “DC girl” out of my element, I was proud of myself for making the trek all the way to Baraga, MI – a one and a half hour drive, in the dark, with no GPS, no cell phone service and only a map of Michigan!

On July 22 we set up the Prevent Cancer Super Colon in Baraga (pronounced “bear-ga”), a beautiful little town on Lake Superior that is part of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. Kathy Mayo put together a fantastic Cancer Prevention Carnival that highlighted the Prevent Cancer Super Colon and also featured snacks, a clown and educational booths about lung, oral and breast cancer. Children of all ages came through, some who learned the word “colon” for the first time and some who were happy to take information home to keep their parents healthy.

About five hours in the other direction of “the U.P.” is a town called Sault Ste Marie that borders Canada. Sault Ste Marie (pronounced “soo saint marie”) is home to the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians. On July 26 Amanda Leonard organized a tent outside of the Sault Tribe Health Center that included the Prevent Cancer Super Colon and educational booths about breast cancer, sexual health and the dangers of tobacco use. Many people who worked for or had appointments at the Health Center stopped by to learn more about cancer prevention.

The number of people who shared personal stories with me was truly touching. I met cancer survivors, widows and people with loved ones currently battling colon cancer. I heard from a young woman who is concerned about her fiancé because his family history calls for him to start getting screened at age 25. I spoke with a man who has diverticulitis that causes him to take extra care of his colon. There was a woman who just turned 50 the week before and received colonoscopy information in the mail – she had ignored it and was very glad to see our exhibit that made her realize that she should go.

I had a great time at both events and am also excited about three more events next week on Michigan’s Lower Peninsula! Be sure to check back in a few weeks to read all about my adventures in Mt. Pleasant, Dorr and Lansing!

Visit our Web site for more information about bringing the Prevent Cancer Super Colon to your community!

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