HELENA — Public health officials and coffee shops across Montana are teaming up to promote colorectal cancer screening.
As a part of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, The Department of Public Health And Human Services (DPHHS) are providing coffee sleeves that promote screenings to coffee shops around the state.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United states, it affects both men and women and the risk increases with age.
Department of Public Health and Human Services Director Sheila Hogan said the cancer is preventable through screening, and early detection is key.
“It is a difficult conversation to talk about,” said Hogan, “but we have to break that stigma. People have to get tested and it’s preventable if we catch it.”
Anyone ages 50 to 75 is recommended to get regularly screened. Those younger than 50 with a personal or family history or cancer, and people between ages 76 and 85 should consult with their doctor when to get screened.
The coffee shop owners MTN spoke with said they’re proud to help raise awareness, and help start a conversation that can save lives.
“If you can get in there and get this caught early, your chances of survival are greater,” said Taralee Mongoven, owner of Leilani’s Lattes.”The more that you know the better off that you are.”
Mongoven is a cancer survivor herself, and says the fight against cancer is often a hard journey.
“But when you have family, friends and support it’s huge,” said Mogoven.
One of those friends is Tracy Donaldson. Mongoven spent a lot of time with her when Donaldson received chemotherapy for colorectal cancer.
“Colorectal cancer is a disease that isn’t easy to talk about,” said Donaldson. “We don’t want to talk about our digestive systems and all that. I definitely had some symptoms and it took me a while to go in and address those.”
Donaldson strongly encourages people to talk freely about when something might be wrong, and asks others to listen and support them
The awareness campaign also hopes to help younger people breach the subject with their parents or grandparents.
According to the 2019 Montana State Health Improvement Plan, 65 percent of Montanans are up-to-date with their screening, which is up from 62 percent in 2018.
The goal nationwide is to reach 80 percent getting regularly tested.
“We are improving, but we still need to keep this important issue in the forefront,” said Sara Murgel of the DPHHS Cancer Control Program. “We appreciate the coffee shops joining us in this effort.”
More information about colorectal cancer and how screening works can be found here.