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Anita’s Story: How Dress in Blue Day Began

In 2006 I started Dress in Blue Day at my children’s k-8 school. I had been diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer at the age of 41. Since I was the third parent at that school to be diagnosed under the recommended screening age, I thought why not start there with my outreach. I had a family history of the disease and did not know, and one of my close friends had died of this disease at 37 seven years earlier. This filled me with a passion to educate and advocate about screening. I wanted to make sure everyone knew the symptoms and risk factors even if they were under the recommended screening age.

The kids who usually wore uniforms at school were allowed to wear blue that day if they brought a dollar which went to charity. We sent screening guidelines home in the school newsletters. I reached out to the local media and they came and covered the story. We also did Mayor proclamations.

In 2008 I helped start a non-profit called Washington Colon Cancer Stars with the help of our state colorectal cancer task force. In 2009 Colon Cancer Alliance approached me and asked if I wanted to launch Dress in Blue Day nationally, and so we did. It is now done all over North America. It is listed as one of the National Days of the Year in the USA. It just goes to show that grassroots advocacy is powerful, and you do not need to have a degree in public health to help educate and make meaningful change. This message 15 years later still needs to be shouted; data show the early age onset colorectal cancer continues to rise at an alarming rate.

Please Dress in Blue and tell your friends and family why.

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