Dress in Blue Day
the first Friday in March (since 2006)
Anita Mitchell in 2006
Dress in Blue Day is dedicated to the fight to end colorectal cancer—a cancer of the colon and rectum. On the day, people wear blue and raise funds in order to raise awareness about this cancer and to honor those who have had it as well as those whose lives have been impacted by knowing someone with this cancer. The day also serves as a reminder to get screened for this cancer. It takes place during National Colorectal Cancer Month.
The day was thought up by Anita Mitchell, a survivor of stage IV colorectal cancer, who also lost her father and a friend to the disease, and thought there should be more awareness about it. She created the day at the school her children went to in 2006, and in 2009 it began being promoted by the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, a group she volunteered for. Mitchell also founded Colon Cancer Stars.
Colorectal cancer affects men and women in comparable numbers. It is the second leading cause of cancer death after lung cancer, surpassing both breast cancer and prostate cancer in total deaths. About 140,000 people are diagnosed with the disease in the United States each year, of whom about 56,000 die. An individual has about a 5% chance of being diagnosed with the disease, and this number increases to 10% to 15% if their family has a history of having it.
Colorectal cancer develops on benign polyps that line the colon and rectum, and this cancer may be prevented by removing these polyps before they become cancerous. Symptoms don't always occur, but some symptoms include changes in stool, rectal bleeding, weight loss, and constant tiredness. The survival rate for those who catch the disease early is 90%, and it is thought that screening and early treatment could save an additional 40,000 lives each year. As one gets older, they should get screened, as they have an increased chance of getting the disease. Everyone over the age of 50 should be screened, and those at higher risk should be screened before this. In addition, there are things individuals can do to help prevent the disease, such as making sure to exercise and eating a healthy diet.
How to Observe
Celebrate the day by organizing a Dress in Blue Day event. Encourage people to wear blue to the event and to donate money to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. The organization suggests that any number of things could be done at an event, such as a chili cook-off or karaoke. You could fundraise today and throughout National Colorectal Cancer Month, or donate to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. You could learn more about colorectal cancer by exploring some resources put together by the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. Perhaps the best way to celebrate would be to get screened for this cancer and to encourage others to do so as well.