Did you know? Gastrointestinal diseases afflict an estimated 60-70 million people in the United States each year, a few of which include the following well-known Americans.
Known for the beloved comic strip, “Peanuts,” legendary cartoonist Charles Schulz passed away at age 77, from colon cancer complications. Schulz was diagnosed with colon cancer November 16, 1999, while undergoing emergency abdominal surgery. Post-diagnosis, he endured chemotherapy, but no further surgery. The colon cancer spread, or metastasized, eventually causing his vision to decline. Unable to continue his work, Schulz retired in December. On February 12, 2000, Schulz passed away in his sleep. The following morning, his final ‘Peanuts’ comic was published in the Sunday paper.
Colon cancer is typically asymptomatic; usually occurring after the cancer has spread. Colon cancer symptoms include abdominal pain, bloody stools, changes in bowel movements such as diarrhea or constipation, and more.
During my 10 years as a head coach, I lead my team to win 5 NFL titles and 2 Super Bowls before my death from colon cancer in 1970. The NFL’s Super Bowl trophy is named in honor of legendary Green Bay Packers coach and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Vince Lombardi.
Afflicted by fluctuating constipation and diarrhea, unintentional weight loss and fatigue, Lombardi believed his stomach discomfort was stress-induced. He continuously took antacids to soothe his symptoms, rather than consulting a doctor. While out of town for a public appearance, the discomfort became unbearable due to unmanageable constipation. Lombardi was admitted into Georgetown University Hospital for diagnosis via a laparotomy, a procedure in which a surgical incision is made in the abdominal cavity.
The source of Lombardi’s discomfort was uncovered, an obstruction caused by a malignant tumor in the sigmoid colon. Unfortunately, the colon cancer was already spreading rapidly. Just weeks after his initial surgery, Lombardi lost his life to colon cancer.
If you have a family history of gastrointestinal disease or colorectal cancer, it is recommended to begin screening earlier than age 50.
The Los Angeles Times credited my well-publicized 1985 colon surgery with increasing Americans’ awareness of colorectal diseases and the importance of early detection. During colorectal surgery, President Ronald Reagan temporarily transferred presidential powers to, then Vice President, George H. W. Bush.
Reagan was in surgery, having a benign polyp removed from his large intestine, when a second polyp was discovered. A biopsy was conducted to discover if the additional polyp was malignant (cancerous). The polyp was indeed cancerous. During Reagan’s second procedure, the doctors removed not only the biopsied polyp, but a total of two feet of his large intestine.
Post-recovery, Reagan allegedly joked, “Well, I’m glad that’s all out!” Quips aside, early colon cancer detection and removal saved President Reagan’s life. He lived till age 93 before passing away as a result of pneumonia, after battling Alheimers for decades.
I am a three-time Cy Young award winner, baseball Hall of Fame member, and the youngest player to pitch a shutout in the 1966 World Series. Baltimore Orioles legendary pitcher, Jim Palmer, is a national spokesperson for raise awareness about GERD and the connection between untreated heartburn and more serious esophageal diseases.
Are you experiencing a burning sensation in your chest after eating? Does the burning worsen when lying down? This discomfort is commonly described as acid reflux. Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid flows backward into the esophagus. Acid reflux may advance into more severe reflux, known as GERD. The most common upper GI procedure to screen for GERD is an esophagogastroduodenoscopy, referred to by its more pronounceable name, EGD.
After my untimely death in 1963, my numerous health conditions, including significant digestive diseases, became public knowledge.
Don’t ignore that burning sensation.
Star of the television series, EMPIRE, I became a colonoscopy cancer spokesperson after my mother’s death of colon cancer at age 56. Oscar-nominated actor, Terrence Howard, is working to improve colonoscopy screening rates through his advocacy work for The Colon Cancer Alliance.
Screening should begin at age 45 for African Americans– if no family or personal colorectal cancer history is present.
Admired for my distinctive voice, I was an actress, dancer, singer, and cabaret star that passed to colon cancer in 2008.Eartha Kitt died from colon cancer, aged 81, on Christmas Day 2008. Among her many iconic roles, Eartha Kitt played “Catwoman” on the 1960s television show Batman.
A screening colonoscopy is preventative care and thus offered at no cost under private insurance.
I am an international supermodel and television talk show host who famously revealed my digestive health disorder on television. Tyra Banks openly discusses her experience with IBS to encourage others to seek treatment.
One in five American adults struggles with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that triggers gas, bloating, cramping, diarrhea and constipation.