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July 2013 Issue

“Cancer Doesn’t Take a Holliday” Campaign Promotes Colon Cancer Screening

Hollidays
St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday with his mother, Kathy, pictured here at the Cardinals spring training facility in Jupiter, Fla.

Kathy Holliday, mother of St. Louis Cardinals
left fielder Matt Holliday, describes herself as a person who always believed in promoting good health by eating well and exercising. She even worked in the fitness industry.

Despite the urging of her gynecologist, Kathy
did not receive a routine colon cancer screening when she turned 50. Ongoing fatigue prompted her to visit her doctor, who discovered the cancer at an early stage.

So when Kathy was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 58, it surprised not only her but family and friends as well. Through Matt’s contacts, Kathy was connected to Steven Hunt, MD, Washington University colorectal surgeon at the Siteman Cancer Center.

“Matt and his wife, Leslee, called, and they felt Siteman offered wonderful care,” says Kathy. “The decision to come to St. Louis was a great one for me and my family.”

Kathy underwent surgery and, because the cancer was caught early, she didn’t need further treatment. Thankful for the positive outcome, Kathy and Matt teamed with Siteman to promote colon cancer screening through the “Cancer Doesn’t Take a Holliday” campaign.

“My mom is a fighter, a value she instilled in my brother and me,” says Matt. “She also taught us the importance of giving back to the community and looking out for others, which is why she and I are involved in this cause.”

As part of the campaign, Kathy and Matt recorded a public service announcement during spring training in Jupiter, Fla., that promotes colon cancer screening. The St. Louis Cardinals have partnered with Siteman colon cancer experts to call attention to the importance of screening. The campaign includes radio, TV, newspaper, and other promotions encouraging colon cancer screening.

“As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, we are focused on improving the health of our region,” says Siteman director Timothy Eberlein, MD. “With Kathy and Matt Holliday at the center of this campaign, we aim to raise awareness about the importance of regular colon cancer screenings for everyone beginning at age 50.”

Colon cancer, one of the most common types of cancer and one of the most preventable, strikes one of every 20 women and men in the United States. Fortunately, most people survive the disease if it’s discovered early. However, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Missouri and Illinois have two of the highest colon cancer death rates in the country.

“Lowering risk is as simple as being physically active for 30 minutes a day or eating fewer than three servings of red meat per week,” says Graham Colditz, MD, DrPH, a disease prevention expert at Siteman. “Regular screenings can detect colon polyps before they turn cancerous.”

Colonoscopies remain the most-effective type of colon screening and should be scheduled every 10 years. Less invasive tests also are available that can reduce the risk of colon cancer death. “Any test you choose is better than none at all,” says Colditz.

“As happy as I was to have Matt and the rest of our family by my side during treatment—and to have received such great care from my doctors and nurses—cancer is a situation better avoided by everyone,” says Kathy. “That’s why I’m telling my story and urging people to schedule regular screenings starting at age 50.”

“My mom and the rest of our family mean everything to me,” says Matt. “We are so grateful her cancer was discovered as early as it was.”
For more information about colon cancer prevention and screening, or to learn more about Kathy Holliday’s story, visit sitemanscreening.wustl.edu. To schedule a colonoscopy exam, call 314-454-7179.