Colorectal cancer isn’t just something for your grandmother to worry about. A recent study by the American Cancer Society found that people born in 1990 and after have twice the risk of colon cancer, and four times the risk of rectal cancer, than people in their parents' generation did at the same age. There are a few theories on this. Some believe it may have to do with processed food and a sedentary lifestyle.
“Normally, it's a disease where it's 50 and above,” said Bob Ceragno, owner of Eye Contact Vision Center in North Bergen. He held the fundraiser last year and this year, ever since being diagnosed with the cancer in 2015.
“It doesn't matter who you are; you need to get checked out for colorectal cancer.” -- Constantinos Apostolakos
He was speaking at the kickoff to his store’s annual fundraiser against colorectal cancer March 3. For the entire month—which is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month-- the store will donate $20 for every pair of blue eyeglasses sold; and $10 for every other different colored pair, to Fight Colorectal Cancer, a community of activists who've survived the condition and are fighting for a cure.
Since the fundraiser began last year, it has raised over $11,000 in total for the cause.
Not just older people
“Now it's people in their 30s and 40s who end up getting it,” Ceragno added. “And at that age group, nobody wants to talk about it. Nobody wants to tell their wife, their girlfriend, their mom, their dad. They're letting it go. And sometimes, it's too late.”
“For people under 50, it's quadrupled,” added his wife, Marlene Ceragno, “because, maybe processed foods, maybe lack of exercise, obesity. It's really becoming a problem. Insurance doesn't pay for colonoscopies under 50. You really have to fight for it. The doctor really has to fight for it.”
Catching it early
Members of the North Hudson Fire Officers Association, North Bergen PBA 18, Mayor Nicholas Sacco, and Freeholder Anthony Vainieri joined Ceragno for the kickoff. The Association and PBA donated $500 each to the fundraiser.
“All these guys from our association came out to support you, and we just wanted to make that known,” said James Corsco, a North Hudson fire officer, as he handed the union's donation check to Ceragno.
“We don't even really know who we're helping, and we're just hoping that we're helping a lot of people, their families, and the community aware to get checked.”
“Not only is it a worthy cause that people are not aware of, we, as the PBA, really felt it important to support our local businesses, and their causes as well,” said Constantinos Apostolakos, PBA 18's president. “He's [Bob] one of our citizens, he's given back to the community, and it's something that helps everybody. It doesn't matter who you are; you need to get checked out for colorectal cancer.”
During a meeting the officers had with Ceragno, he asked whether they knew about the cancer. “None of us really had ever thought about it before,” Apostolakos admitted. “In that short meeting, he shared a story, it was inspirational. We decided we were going to support him. This cancer is beatable.”
According to Janet Castro, a health officer with the town's Health Department, men especially need to get checked. “The primary issue is with men not following through with the screening,” Castro said. “That's where we get resistance. Men are just not willing to go through the screening process as willingly as women.”
“It's the easiest cancer to alleviate,” Vainieri said. “I see people that never go to a doctor, and they're 55, 60, and, God forbid, in six months, seven months, they pass away. That's something that can be prevented.”
You can donate to Fight Colorectal Cancer at https://give.fightcrc.org/checkout/donation?eid=26925.
Hannington Dia can be reached at email@example.com