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Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:03

Paint the Town Blue

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SARATOGA SPRINGS – The month of March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month, and to help raise awareness some of Saratoga Springs’ downtown streets and businesses might be looking a little blue - literally. The Cancer Services Program of Saratoga County, in conjunction with Saratoga Hospital, is coordinating a campaign called Main Streets Go Blue (MSGB.) MSGB is a month-long awareness campaign encouraging people to stay proactive in their health, while bringing attention to the threat of colorectal cancer. 

Throughout March, the sidewalks along Broadway and Church Street in front of Saratoga Hospital will be (temporarily) painted blue. Participating businesses are encouraged to paint their shop windows blue, hang blue lights or ribbons, or offer a blue item or discount as a way to raise awareness themselves. In coordination with the event’s kickoff, March 2 has been designated as the national “dress in blue” day.  The Cancer Services Program encourages everyone to get involved and help spread the message of preventative screening. MSGB was modeled after the Colon Cancer Alliance’s national awareness program, Cities Go Blue. 
The campaign’s coordinator, Tasha Ostapczuk, hopes to raise awareness for what Cancer Services Program of Saratoga County provides for the community, while promoting a campaign designed to encourage an active role in one’s health.


“What we do is screen for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers in men and women who are without health insurance,” explained Ostapczuk. “We want to get more men and women over 50 aware that if they aren’t insured, they can be screened. Cancer screening saves lives, and early detection is the best prevention.”


The Cancer Services Program of Saratoga County is funded through grants organized by the New York State Department of Health.  It’s through those grants that the program is able to provide screenings to the uninsured.


Cancer is a touchy subject, and Ostapczuk realizes the hesitancy some might have concerning a colorectal exam.


“I tell people all the time, you wouldn’t buy a car and not change the oil because the engine would seize. So why would you walk around and not have your body checked? You don’t want your ‘engine’ to seize,” said Ostapczuk.


The reservations some might have over the screening processes led to the development of what’s called a FIT kit. FIT kits are a home-based, private procedure that allows the screening process to take place, without any invasive visits to a doctor. A FIT kit can determine whether continued treatment is necessary, while remaining as private as
possible.


Though the chosen color for the event, blue, is generally thought of as a masculine color, the risk of colorectal cancer affects both men and women, and the Cancer Service Program encourages everyone to get screened.


“If you have health insurance, talk to your doctor. If you’re 50 years old, man or woman,” explains Ostapczuk. “They’ll likely discuss family history, diet, anything concerning your health, but there is no reason you cannot be screened.”


Those concerned about their risk of colorectal cancer who do not have health insurance can be screened by the Cancer Services Program.  What you may not know, is that should something be found during that screening, the program intends to stand by you through the entire process.


“We will pay for treatment for someone who is diagnosed through our program,” said Ostapczuk.  “We hear people saying ‘You’ll screen me for free, but what if I am actually diagnosed?’ We can enroll them in the Medicaid Cancer Treatment Program.”


If you’re looking to get involved, or are a business who would like to officially participate, contact the Cancer Services Program of Saratoga County at (518) 580-2078.

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