March is colon cancer awareness month. I lost my father to colon cancer. “Preventing colon cancer” is near and dear to my heart.

I was shocked when I got the call that my father was diagnosed with colon cancer. Cancer affected lots of people, but I never thought it could happen to my father. My father was always in good health and good at sports. My paternal grandfather lived to 97 years old. So, we assumed everyone in our family would live a long life due to the good genes we carried.

I bought a ticket home to be with my father immediately. He underwent a major surgery and chemotherapy. We did a lot of research and made a whole list of things he could do to reduce the risk of recurrence. For example, having a healthy diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, and fiber; avoiding red and processed meats, drink more milk, no alcohol. But his cancer still came back and spread. It was a horrendous experience watching him lose weight and constantly be in pain. The loss of my father was devastating.

Some cancers are hard to detect and they are usually in the advanced stage when symptoms appear. But colon cancer is highly detectable and treatable if caught in the early stages. Getting a colonoscopy is the best way for colorectal cancer screening. With a colonoscopy, polyps can be removed before they become cancerous.

I keep thinking about how things might have been if I knew about colon cancer symptoms and colonoscopy at that time. And if my father did screenings, he would probably still be with us. Early Detection is Life Saving. Getting a colonoscopy is not a fun experience, but it is better than the alternative.

It took me several years to realize that my father passed away and I will never have a chance to talk to him and see him again. He can only watch over us from heaven. When the other families celebrate “Father’s Day”, I only can say “happy father’s day” to my father’s picture.

Please remind your parents, friends, and relatives to get a colonoscopy or at least get an at-home colon cancer test (such as FIT Test). You may end up saving their lives. And for you parents reading this, please get the test for your own sake. You will have more chance to watch your children and grandchildren grow up and grow older.

To find a community health center that provides screening, regardless of insurance coverage, please go to https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/