Here's one very important reason for you to "Love Your Butt" (as if you needed another).
The "Love Your Butt" campaign is an initiative sponsored by the Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation that encourages all individuals to engage in recommended colon cancer screenings. In a world where American gay men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer as their heterosexual counterparts, the importance of regular screenings should not be underemphasized.
The Huffington Post chatted with Chris4Life President and Founder Michael Sapienza this week about the importance of the "Love Your Butt" campaign, as well as the way colon cancer intersects with the gay community.
The Huffington Post: What is the vision/mission of the "Love Your Butt" campaign?
Michael Sapienza: In 2010 when Chris4Life was started there were little to no campaigns out there that were focused on raising awareness for colon cancer screening. One of the first things I did was say we need to create a campaign that gets people talking about their butts, and bringing general awareness to getting a colonoscopy or screened for this disease. My mom was 56 when she was diagnosed and passed away at 59. I always say if she had been screened at the recommended age of 50 she would still be here today.
That being said, Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation launched the Love Your Butt Campaign in 2013 in Washington, DC with a vision of increasing awareness and making people laugh. It was highly successful in its first year, having been featured on NPR. In 2014 and 2015 we have grown from this success by spreading the message nationwide through print, online, TV, transportation and radio PSAs.
How does colon cancer intersect with the gay community? Are gay people at a higher risk for colon cancer than other minority groups? What groups are disproportionately affected by this disease?
Unfortunately there are numerous barriers for gay Americans in getting screened for colorectal cancer, including
a. Low rates of health insurance
b. A fear of discrimination
c. Negative experience with health care professionals
Also, a 2011 study found that gay Americans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer than their heterosexual counterparts. We don't have data that shows that gay people are at higher risk for CRC than other minority groups. African Americans and Hispanics are both minority groups that have a much higher risk for being affected by colon cancer.
As a gay American CEO and founder of a cancer non profit, I have found that obviously cancer has no barriers and, unfortunately, affects all of us. It has been incredible to see how this disease can sometimes act as a bridge for different demographics and communities to come together.
This year's campaign focuses on the power of relationships -- can you talk to me more about this?
Relationships are one of our strongest emotional drivers. We experience this with our lovers, our friends, our family and even our enemies. They are also a powerful tools to create action, meaning, "I won't do this for myself but I would do it for someone else." In addition bringing this message to a level in which almost 100% of the general public can relate to only helps us in moving the bar in getting people screened and helping to save lives.
What do you ultimately hope to accomplish with the "Love Your Butt" campaign? How can people get involved?
Chris4Life is a partner with the American Cancer Society's 80% by 2018 Screening Campaign, and our biggest goal is to increase screening rates for colon cancer all across the country by making this an approachable subject for people of all ages. I would encourage everyone to do three things:
1. Visit our website and share it on social media and with family and friends
2. Talk to you friends and family about whether they have been screened
3. Love Your Butt
Want to learn more about the "Love Your Butt" campaign? Head here.