Having a scope pushed into your rectum for a colonoscopy isn’t nearly as bad as you might think, according to Bob Ceragno, a local business owner for Eye Contact Vision Center on Bergenline Avenue in North Bergen.
For starters, you’ll probably be drugged for the procedure.
“You’re in la-la land, so you don’t know what’s going on,” Ceragno said, at a closing event for his annual colorectal cancer awareness and research fundraiser at his store, March 28. “You don’t feel a thing.”
His intent was to encourage people to get their colons checked so that if they have cancer, they can catch it in its early stages. While some see the test as unpleasant, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The American Cancer Society recommends that people get the procedure at least once every 10 years.
“It’s the best sleep you ever had,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. George Solter, of undergoing a colonoscopy. “You’re out for 20 minutes. And everybody passes gas.”
Fighting colorectal cancer
Ceragno underwent a colonoscopy in 2015 after finding blood in the toilet. He was 57 years old. Five years before that one, he had a successful colonoscopy.
He found out that he had early stage colorectal cancer, for which he underwent subsequent treatment. Three years later, he’s cancer free.
Since 2016, he has held fundraisers at his store every March for Fight Colorectal Cancer (FCC), a non-profit group of survivors seeking a cure.
March was National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month.
Schools, local businesses, firefighters lend a hand
This year, the North Bergen school district held a dress down day March 23 to raise funds for FCC. They raised $2,500, which they donated to Ceragno at his event. Guttenberg’s Anna Klein Elementary School also held a dress down day that generated $300. Local bar Ron Y Lechon donated 10 percent of its happy hour earnings on March 23–$250.
The North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue (NHRFR) also presented Ceragno with a $500 check at his store.
Guttenberg Mayor Wayne Zitt had a police department car decorated in the FCC logo for the event. To date, Ceragno’s fundraiser has raised $30,000 for FCC, he said.
“There’s so many people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s getting colorectal cancer.” – Bob Ceragno
Young generation now needs screenings
Ceragno stressed the importance of not just older adults getting a colonoscopy, but younger people as well.
A 2017 study from the American Cancer Society found that people born in 1990 have twice the risk of colon cancer, and quadruple the risk of rectal cancer, as opposed to those born in the 1950s. Ceragno said that people should get the test at a younger age.
“There’s so many people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s getting colorectal cancer,” Ceragno said. “It’s not being taken seriously enough by the patients, as well as the doctors.”
By bring awareness through his advocacy, Ceragno said he has heard of teachers and firefighters who found out they had colorectal cancer.
“There’s at risk, big time, because of the smoke,” Ceragno said.
Coincidentally, one NHRFR firefighter is fighting Stage 3 colorectal cancer, according to Chief Luis Morales, who was at the store for the event.
Ceragno said, “When I first got diagnosed, the girls that worked for me at that time said, ‘How did you know? My dad, my mom, they don’t go to the doctors.’ ” He said people should not hesitate on a screening if they suspect something is wrong.
Many people don’t want to talk about colonoscopies because they’re uncomfortable talking about their buttocks, he said.
Preparing for the procedure
People who fear getting colorectal cancer need to know that it isn’t the end, added Marlene Ceragno, Bob’s wife.
“They say the only way to make it less scary is to tell survivors’ stories,” Marlene said. “So if somebody sees a productive life, after diagnosis, surgery, treatment, then it’s not so scary to get that colonoscopy.”
Before getting one, doctors recommend a complete cleansing the night before and eating very light. Ceragno said he uses a Dulcolax and Gatorade combination for detoxing before a colonoscopy.
Solter said he does the same thing, recalling one particular instance. “I started at 6 [p.m.] or 7, and at 9, and I said, ‘This isn’t too bad,’” he said.
He felt a little different later when he was in the bathroom, he admitted.
Marlene said once you’re done cleansing, you can make a proud proclamation.
“It’s the only time you can say you’re not full of [expletive],” she said.
Hannington Dia can be reached at email@example.com