Colon Cancer Sucks Ass

Saturday, June 18, 2011

"What's Up Your Butt?"

One of the greatest challenges faced by colorectal cancer advocacy groups is getting people to talk about their poop tube and the somewhat embarrassing symptoms that can be associated with a tumor growing “in there.” Not to mention trying to get people to believe that they not only need a colonoscopy, but that that they actually want to initiate the whole process of bowel “cleansing” and getting scoped via their “back door“ (so many euphemisms, so little time *sigh*). Let’s face it -- this is a dark place where people dread to tread, yet alone talk about. So, advocacy groups have to get creative…

Humor is a great way to break the ice in almost any uncomfortable situation. If delivered effectively, it can lead to laughter…and laughter just makes everything better and more bearable (at least it does in my world). Here are a few great examples of this tactic:

1) Public service video by Rose Hausmann (an amazing survivor), "It's Easy" @

2) Ms. Butt Meddler's hilarious video, "Lookin' Up My Back Door" @

3) The attention-grabbing "Cover Your Butt" T-shirts that Fight Colorectal Cancer advocates wore around D.C. for 2010's Call On Congress:

Many of you have probably heard about’s recent add campaign that has had mixed reviews, and whose billboards have actually been banned in some cities. The controversial ads feature an individual wearing a cross between a pained and quizzical expression next to the phrase: “What’s up your butt?”

Party poopers say it is in “poor taste.” Me? I think it is awesomely clever. It at once makes me giggle and wonder what the ad is referring to…it makes me want to go home and google it to find out what they think might be up my butt exactly.

As a hospital nurse with a warped sense of humor, my immediate thoughts upon seeing the images of the billboards went to strange objects that patients have swallowed or placed up their own butts (my favorite was one of those super tiny library pencils -- don’t ask me why). Then I thought maybe it could be an ad for some new laxative that is proven to effectively treat constipation or, perhaps, anal-retentive natures. My love of the “X-Files” led my wandering mind down the path of alien abductions and those uncomfortable probes they use…

The colorectal cancer advocate in me, however, knew exactly what the billboard was asking, and thought it was brilliant. Maybe there could be a subtler or “classier” way to discuss colorectal cancer, but cancer is never respectful in its introductions to our bodies, so why do we have to be? Besides, any discussion on this topic is good; any publicity about colon cancer and its prevention is wonderful. Am I right?!

What are your thoughts? What ideas do you have to creatively educate the public about colorectal cancer? What would be a better way to grab people’s attention without them feeling the need to instinctively clench their butt cheeks and run the other way? How do we open the door to the "back door"?



  • At 2:51 PM, Blogger CancerCafe said…

    I agree with you, laughter is a good thing. I love these billboards. Even though some cities banned them, at least people are talking about them and raising awareness!

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  • At 12:41 PM, Blogger Kays1040 said…

    I am 45 years old and just returned (last night) from a week long stay in the hospital after having colon cancer removed from my body - 8 inches of colon containing a malignant tumor. Lucky for me I pay attention to what's coming out of my butt and noticed blood in my stool. Had I not been paying attention and waited til age 50 as is recommened (there is no history of it in my family) the doctor said it might have been too late to do anything for me. I chose to attack my diagnosis of colon cancer head on, with humor and totally "exposed". Everyone I know immediately knew I had it and how I found it. Yes, it's a nasty area to get cancer and talk about, but cancer is nasty and of all the cancers to get this is the best one to poke fun at. I LOVE the "What's up your butt" campaign! I plan on ordering a dozen t-shirts and other items with the slogan to distribute to friends. Obviously, colon cancer does not wait til age 50 to strike, so why should we wait til age 50 to check. My message to everyone is, "shit happens! pay attention to it because there just may be something there you need to see!" And for those people who can't handle the brutality of such honest messages, well, they just need to pull their heads out and get real. Because life in general ain't pretty, subtle or proper!

  • At 12:41 PM, Anonymous Asima said…

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  • At 2:32 AM, Blogger Bruce said…

    I agree with you, these boards do have a way of catching attention.Thanks for this post.

    Colon Cancer Information

  • At 10:18 AM, Anonymous Electronic Medical Records said…

    Colon cancer is very painful but fortunately there is improved surgery these days which helps control the disease to a certain level.

  • At 2:15 PM, Blogger The Cunos said…

    My sister is 27 and has stage 4 colon cancer. They say she's had it for along time. It was dismissed as constipation and other pain sources, because of her young age.

    It's almost as if the age 50 should creep lower, and it should be especially after 50. Due to age it was looked over as a possibility.

    I shared your blog with my sister, I think she will enjoy the blog. : )

    Thank you for all of your information as well. : )

    Because of my sister, I am 25 and have scheduled my own colonoscopy. Before I had any relation to the colon cancer awareness, I'd seen the commercials, I'd seen adds, I was aware, and yet not worried because of my age. I agree too it seemed like a weird process, a topic more personal, so I agree with the creative ways to get people talking about it.

  • At 2:23 PM, Blogger The Cunos said…

    Another thing to add is, when seeing awareness adds, commercials, banners, etc. I new from the adds that having the colonoscopy saved someones fathers life.

    Until my sister found out that she was at stage 4 that it had crept up on her so quickly, that it has spread to spots on her lungs, something on her liver etc. I had no idea of colon cancers ability to creep up on you.

    That is something I think that would get people not to clinch their butt cheeks, I'd like spread 'em in a minute now knowing what I know. Knowing the abilities of the cancer, knowing how it can be dismissed as other things, knowing that it can spread from mild to aggressively and kill you before you have a chance to catch that you have it. That'd get me spreading my cheeks, no matter how much that area is an unpleasant , embarrassing topic. I value my life, I want to stick around for my kids. For them no topic is too embarrassing that would stop me from getting my butt checked.

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  • At 9:14 AM, Anonymous Toronto Colonics said…

    That's unfortunate that so many of us wait until it is too late to focus on our health. As a parent, I think we should be teaching our kids about cancer prevention diets and living a healthy safe life.


  • At 7:11 PM, Blogger Helen Hill said…

    I have early stage 4 colon cancer and my surgery is April 24th. I think this is a great site to talk about it and to use humour wherever possible is the only way to deal with this kind of thing. Very best of luck to all!

  • At 4:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    CRC awareness is not the only issue. Compliance will be low because we are using a surgical procedure as a mass screening tool.

    For those of you preaching sub 50 screening, I will be the jerk and remind you that your exceptions are poor arguments. Anyone who contracts CRC super early is essentially doomed.

    Our cancer screenings continue to be a relatively pointless war on dysplasia. Error rates are so ridiculous we test too frequently to compensate for false negative rates ( thereby creating near certainty for false positive referrals).

    Back to colonoscopies.... The one size fits all screening guidelines are a joke. Men have higher incidence rate and decade earlier onset. We have known about risk mitigants for years. It's time to use this information.

    And stop overselling colonoscopies. Between the miss rates, fast moving cancers that don't follow the polyp model, you are not bulletproof from CRC.

    And free sDNA already if you are serious about CRC since half the population will never get scoped and already better than font and fit. The industry is holding fecal DNA to a scientific standard neveret by colonoscopies.

    Glad colonoscopies exist but it's the wrong approach for mass CRC screening ( we don't cut off every freckle on our dermis right?)

  • At 5:24 PM, Blogger Angie Galido said…

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