Lisa Han | Published on September 13, 2016
Updated on February 13, 2018
During an unusually hot and muggy July weekend, over 2,100 patients and 1,400 volunteers gathered at the Wise County Fairgrounds, in the heart of Appalachia, for a Remote Area Medical (RAM) event. Since 1985, RAM has provided free medical services to hundreds of thousands of patients across the country. People who would not otherwise be able to afford or have access to full dental care, vision services, hearing exams and aids, cardiology, lung and women’s health services make a weekend trip to receive the care they need for free. In Wise, hundreds of people came in the early hours, some even camping out, to wait their turns for medical care.
The Prevent Cancer Foundation supported this amazing effort with the always crowd-pleasing Super Colon™ exhibit. The large inflatable colon traveled to Wise to educate patients and volunteers about colorectal cancer and how it can be prevented. Participants walk through the inflatable colon to learn what normal colon tissue looks like, how polyps can develop and turn cancerous and how the four stages of colorectal cancer look so different.
We also passed out materials and talked to everyone about several types of cancer and ways they can help Stop Cancer Before It Starts!™ I wasn’t sure that people with such immediate health needs would be interested in learning about preventing cancer through healthy eating and exercise habits and screening, but I was pleasantly surprised at the crowd’s reception of our message. I learned some valuable lessons over those two days:
These were long days, but the time flew by. Everyone who stopped by knew at least something about one or two of the preventable cancers and was eager to learn more. After we asked if they knew their family history, we talked about screening and encouraged everyone to keep making healthier food choices and getting regular exercise to reduce their risk of several cancers. And most importantly, to take this information back home to their friends, family and communities.