It’s Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths.
About 1 out of 3 people are not up to date with their colorectal cancer screening, which can help identify precancerous polyps so you can get them removed before they turn into cancer.
Colorectal Cancer Symptoms
Colorectal cancer often doesn’t cause symptoms, which is why screenings are key to diagnosing cancer.
Those who do have symptoms experience:
Blood in stool
Persistent, ongoing stomach pain and cramps
Unexplained weight loss
Colorectal Cancer Screenings
There are a few different screenings for colorectal cancer available to you. The level of preparation needed for them, invasiveness, and frequency you’ll need them all vary.
Fecal Occult Blood Tests and Fecal Immunochemical Tests
A fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) or a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) can check for hidden blood in your stool, which can be a sign of cancer.
These tests are noninvasive and don’t require a bowel cleanse before your appointment. They also need to be repeated each year because they don’t give your doctor a firsthand look at your colon’s health.
You simply collect your stool sample at home and mail it or bring it in to a lab for processing, and they’ll let you know your results.
A FIT-DNA test checks for blood in the stool as well, but it also looks for DNA changes that may be a sign of cancer or precancerous polyps.
This test is noninvasive and doesn’t require a bowel cleanse before your appointment. They also need to be repeated every 3 years, because they don’t give your doctor a firsthand look at your colon’s health.
You simply collect your stool sample at home and mail it or bring it to a lab for processing, and they’ll let you know your results.
A flexible sigmoidoscopy is similar to a colonoscopy, but it only looks at part of your colon.
This procedure may require a bowel cleansing the night before, but its prep is not as extensive as what’s required for a colonoscopy. It’s usually done in your doctor’s office or a procedure room, and it must be repeated every 5 years.
The procedure involves a thin, flexible scope being inserted into the rectum to view the lower third of the colon so your doctor can look at its condition firsthand. Pieces of tissue can also be removed and evaluated for any abnormal cell changes.
A colonoscopy provides the best view of the entire colon.
Bowel cleansing is required the night before this procedure. It’s usually done in an outpatient surgery center, and it is usually recommended once every 10 years. If your provider is concerned though, they can recommend you have them more frequently.
A thin, flexible scope is inserted into your rectum to view your entire colon. Pieces of tissue or polyps can also be removed and evaluated for any abnormal cell changes.
The Screening That’s Right for You
You should work with your doctor to choose the screening that’s right for you and your situation. No matter which screening you choose, most of our plans will cover 100% of the cost. If more testing or services are needed besides your normal screenings, you may be responsible for paying a copay.
We always hear how we need to spend more time with our loved ones. But it’s hard to find common ground with others. We might not like the same music or have the same hobbies and interests.
In March, many schools celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday (March 2,
1904). This is a great opportunity for kids to learn the legend of these children’s
books. It’s always nice to hear kids get back home and tell us how they now
know about “Green Eggs and Ham.” We have all grown up hearing these stories and
catchy rhymes. Now we don’t have to worry about what we are going to talk about
with our children or grandchildren.
Dr. Seuss has been such an icon for so many years. His books
bring together so many families and generations. When we were children, we
loved the funny characters in these stories and how much fun they had in their
adventures. Dr. Seuss taught us that there is so much more to do on a rainy day
than just looking out the window. That silly cat had so many tricks up his
sleeve (or should I say his hat?).
These stories help with more than just letting your
imagination loose. They teach us valuable lessons. “How the Grinch Stole
Christmas!” really shows us that this holiday is not about material possessions
but about being surrounded by the people you love the most.
“The Lorax” has a character that only thinks about himself
and his success but doesn’t think about how his actions could affect the
environment. This teaches us to think of the long-term effects of our actions.
Now when we spend time with our children or grandchildren,
we can read them a Dr. Seuss book. Enjoy watching them take in all of the
colors, characters, and rhymes. We can teach them the meaning of each story and
share the stories we grew up with. We don’t have to struggle to find something
we both like. Instead, we can really enjoy our time together. And why not get a
couple of laughs in as well?
Jessica Arroyo, born and raised in the Wenatchee Valley, is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance Northwest, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. During her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son.
Some people say I get into details too much. To some, paying attention to details is a strength. To others, it may be irritating. However, specific details make a difference, depending on the situation.
I remember an incident where a friend was going to meet me after I got off work. The friend called me to ask what time I was getting off work. I told them the time and asked them to meet me after. Well, I assumed they knew where to meet me since we had met before at the same place.
Instead, this person met me at the right time but at the wrong place. I was in front of my house. But they were in front of my workplace. The biggest issue was that at the time, I was commuting to work about 40 miles away, so I had to sit and wait until they traveled back. Time, money, and patience were wasted all due to an assumption, lack of clarification, and lack of details.
Earlier this year, I gave a presentation on health advocacy to a Parkinson’s disease support group. One of the important points was that it’s important for patients to speak up to their healthcare provider. It’s important to speak up about concerns, needs, and expectations. One of the things patients are encouraged to speak up about is their prescription medications. Some questions you should be asking your provider during an appointment included:
What will the medication you’re prescribing do?
How do I take it?
What are the side effects?
There was a point made in the open discussion at this presentation on instructions about how often and when to take a particular prescription commonly used to treat Parkinson’s disease. An instruction on the medication label said to take it 4 times a day. Being familiar with this medication, the person knew the instructions usually said to take 4 times a day during waking hours. The person inquired about it and found that those details had been omitted by the pharmacist. But the doctor’s intent was for it to be taken during waking hours. This was an important detail for treating a Parkinson’s patient.
I’m not sure what adverse effect may have happened if the medication had not been taken during waking hours. But any risk is too much of a risk to take when it concerns taking medication and your good health. Following the directions of prescription medication labels can help you avoid the risk of having adverse reactions. It can also help you gain the full intended benefit of the drug. And it’s also important to ask clarifying, detailed questions before taking medication.
We want you to be your best and to take charge of your health. When it comes to your health and wellness, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions. There is safety in the details.
Sherry Gordon-Harris is a community liaison at Health Alliance. She is a wife and mother of 2 boys and enjoys traveling, collecting dolls, and hosting princess parties and princess pageants.
When I started working in the Medicare industry 15 years ago, I was ignorant about Medicare and insurance of any kind really. It seemed like a growth industry to me.
15 year later, I have a much more personal interest in
the subject, having quite a few family members over 65. This aging thing is not
as easy as I thought it would be. Things change.
I’ve made progress in the meantime. I also used to
think being online and connected was not that necessary. Now I couldn’t live
without it. Please note, the perception that older people don’t like to use
technology is false. According to Pew
Research Center, 4 in 10 seniors own smartphones, more than double
the share that did so in 2013.
I have an almost 8-month-old and an 8-year-old and
have “mom brain” most days. I used to take extra time getting ready for a big
event or even a regular day. When I was done, I would look in the mirror and
say, “You look very well put together.” Now,
when I go through all the same steps, I look in in the mirror and say, “You
When did I stop hearing, “You look great,” and start
hearing, “You look great for your age”? Probably around the same time folks
went from saying, “I like your new glasses,” to “Your new glasses take 5 years
off your face.” Ugh.
I’ve learned not to ask anyone how old they are unless
they are under the age of 12. Even then, I would think twice about it. If
anyone forces you to guess how old they are, make a fair guess, and then
subtract 15 years. No one ever complains.
The Population Reference Bureau says that from 2014 to 2060, the number of people age 65 and older in the United States will more than double from 46 million to over 98 million. Surprisingly, people over age 85 are the fastest growing 10-year age group of the older population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Aging is tough. Often, we have to forgo many of the
activities of our youth, such as:
anything you want
up all night
about the small stuff (Oh wait, that’s a good thing.)
While I still have a way to go before some of these
activities are things I have to forgo, I try to remember those family and
friends that are maturing and reaching a stage where they may have to give up
some of these activities. I try to show as much grace and dignity to them as I
hope someone will show to me. Maturing is tough.
Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.
It’s National Weddings Month, and many soon-to-be spouses are planning their spring and summer weddings, so this week, we’re helping you with tips for handling your wedding stress.
40% of couples in one study found wedding planning extremely stressful, with 71% finding it more stressful than other major life events like finding a new job.
Why are weddings so stressful? They’re a big, expensive commitment, emotions are running high, and your relationship can be affected. It’s normal to be stressed.
If you start using all your spare time on wedding planning, it’s straining your relationship, you’re questioning your decisions, or you’re procrastinating, you’re probably suffering from wedding stress.
Prioritize your wedding planning. Decide what’s most important to you about the wedding upfront, and focus on it. Don’t let the details overwhelm you.
Be prepared for things you can’t control on the big day and plan accordingly. If it rains, what’s your back-up plan? Know ahead of time so you won’t feel like everything’s ruined if it changes.
Find ways to unplug and clear your mind. Meditate and try yoga or tai chi. Find a way to put down your phone, step away, and lower your blood pressure when things get too crazy.
Practice self-care. Do something restorative, like a massage, Netflix binge, or a jog. And make time to still do fun things together as a couple, like a regular date night.