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Petitioning United States Congress

Never Too Young – Lower the Screening Age for Colorectal Cancer

I was 36 and in the prime of my life.  Everything seemed perfect, but there was something sinister growing inside of me, waiting to take it all away.  On April 1st, 2013 I heard the words no person wants to hear – YOU HAVE CANCER.  I was diagnosed with Stage IV colorectal cancer.  I had no family history, but plenty of warning signs.  In fact, my classic symptoms were ignored from the age of 21!  I have started this petition in the hopes of lowering the initial screening age from 50 to 20 years old.  I am also working to raise awareness so that no other young person will go through what I have been through. If my efforts can save even one person from my fate, I will have achieved my goal.

The facts are that colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S., and every year approximately 140,000 people are diagnosed.  Of those, the current stats show that between 10-20% are under the age of 40, but the screening age remains 50 years old.  Colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates continue to rise in the population under 50.  It is also a misnomer that colorectal cancer is mostly genetic.  Current data shows approximately 5% of all cases are genetic in nature.  With appropriate screening, colorectal cancer is one of the few 100% preventable cancers.  This fact is so very important it bears repeating:  COLORECTAL CANCER IS 100% PREVENTABLE WITH EARLY DETECTION!  Unfortunately, insurance companies refuse to cover diagnostic tests for those under 50.  Here is how you can help.

I started this petition so I present it to our Congressmen and Women when I participate in an event called The Call on Congress.  During this event, colorectal cancer survivors are given the opportunity to meet with members of Congress and plead our case in the fight against this preventable disease.  We want to convince our lawmakers, the insurance companies and lobbyists how important these tests are and the critical nature of lowering the testing age.  There are new, simple blood tests (Cologuard), fecal occult tests, colonoscopies and sigmoidoscopies.   Had I been offered any of these when I had initial symptoms, maybe I wouldn’t have been diagnosed at an advanced stage.  The earlier it’s caught, the better the prognosis.  No one should be denied these screening tests.  Insurance companies cover screening for cervical cancer annually.  They cover testing your cholesterol, testing for diabetes and heart disease routinely, so why not offer additional life-saving tests to younger people?  We must take a stand now and fight for our rights and our lives.  According to the latest stats, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 2 men will face cancer in their lifetime.  Let’s take colorectal cancer out of the equation NOW and save people today.  We have enough to worry about; colorectal cancer shouldn’t be one of them.  This is not an “old man’s disease” and 1 in 20 is the average risk factor.  There are currently more than ONE MILLION colon cancer survivors, and as one of them, I thank you for taking your time to stand up for all of us.  Our voices will be heard, and our hopefully our government will support us in our fight.

Let’s start saving lives today!

Thank you,

Dawn Eicher

 

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