DETROIT – March is colorectal cancer awareness month.
It is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the United States, but highly treatable when caught early.
Unfortunately, colonoscopies have dropped dramatically because of the pandemic causing potentially deadly delays in detecting cases.
It is a trend survivors and those who have lost loved ones to the disease are desperately trying to change.
“She’s a huge part of my life. A huge important part of my life,” said Linda Graffin, a colon cancer survivor who lost her sister to the disease.
She is on a mission in memory of her older sister and best friend, Kari.
Kari had colorectal surgery when she was 46-years-old. Then she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
But before Kari even looked into treatment options, her priority was that Graffin get screened too.
“They found that I had four polyps and two of them were cancer,” said Graffin.
It was an early discovery that saved Graffin’s life at the age of 42.
“They told me if I would have waited, at one more year, I would have been stage four, just like my sister,” said Graffin.
Graffin had successful surgery while Kari started chemo.
“That was going really well, she was responding, she had her treatment every two weeks for the next two years,” said Graffin.
Kari battled to beat the cancer, but in 2017 she stopped responding to treatment.
“There was just nothing more that they could do, so she went on hospice and in October of 2017 she passed away,” said Graffin.
Graffin is now an ambassador for the organization, Fight Colorectal Cancer.
“It is so important to be screened. You know people younger than in their 20s are getting it,” she said.
She is hoping to inspire everyone not to put off getting screened.
“If I can save one person like my sister saved me, it’s worth it,” said Graffin.
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