COLDEN, N.Y. (WKBW) — #NeverTooYoung; it's the message the Colorectal Cancer Alliance and advocate Kevin Hays want you to remember.
Hays lives in Colden with his wife and three kids.
He calls himself a cancer thriver, as he's gone through multiple surgeries, rounds of chemotherapy, and screenings in the last six years of living with colorectal cancer.
"If you catch it early, it has a 90 percent cure rate," Hays said. "Sitting in the chemo chair, getting an infusion and then feeling like garbage wasn't a fight, it was a necessity. By doing advocacy, spreading awareness, and trying to get people to get screened and help save lives was my way of fighting against the disease."
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer rates in younger people have been rising.
The standard age for screening used to be 50, but recently the American Cancer Society changed it to 45.
Hays was diagnosed when he was 28 years old, just after his first daughter Abby was born.
"Pay attention to your body," Hays said. "The old saying 'it's an old man's disease' is just not the case."
Some of the symptoms you should be on the lookout for include
- Unexplained weight loss
- Persistent changes in your bowel habits
- Frequent abdominal discomfort
The main test is a colonoscopy, but the Erie County Department of Health does have screenings you can do right at home.
Hays says those screenings may help more than just your health.
"Your family, your friends, they want you around," Hays said. "So think about them and they want you taking care of yourself the best you can, so think about them."
If you're looking for local events to raise awareness for colorectal cancer, the Buffalo Colon Corps is hosting 'A Ta-Booty Happy Hour" on Wednesday, March 25th.
The event raises money and awareness, featuring the following
- Open bar (craft beer) with attendance
- Light snacks
- Live music
- 50/50 raffle
- Lawn games
- Trivia game about colorectal health and screening
It's all happening from 4 to 7 p.m at Buffalo Ironworks.