During March 2019 – Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month – the leading advocacy organization is rallying advocates to raise awareness so all Americans can access to life-saving colorectal cancer screenings.

This March, Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC), the nation’s largest advocacy organization dedicated to colon and rectal cancers, is recruiting advocates to “get behind a cure” by signing a petition and snapping a #StrongArmSelfie. The petition’s supporters are voicing opposition to the co-pay Medicare patients face if polyps get removed – a known barrier to screening. The petition can be viewed and signed at GetBehindACure.org; it will be sent to congressional members by advocates in their districts at the end of March.

The petition addresses what’s commonly known as the “colonoscopy loophole bill. ” This legislation protects Medicare patients who schedule a screening colonoscopy and receive an expected bill when a polyp is removed.  Fight CRC advocates are ceaseless in the push to see the law get fixed, as its implications will impact generations to come. This is the fifth Congress to introduce the bill, titled “The reducing barriers to colorectal cancer screening act,” and the ninth year Fight CRC advocates have pushed for its passing. Around 60 percent of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented through screening.

“It’s time we closed the colonoscopy loophole. Colorectal cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer if caught early. Ending this barrier to screening would reduce Medicare spending by $525 million over a 10-year period and prevent 1,500 to 2,000 cases of colon cancer each year. Fight CRC has and will continue to make closing the screening loophole a priority until we’re successful. It’s our hope that it will be with this new Congress.”  said Anjee Davis, president of Fight Colorectal Cancer.

Early supporters of the “break down barriers” petition include 31 ambassadors from across the country serving as the “faces” of those whom the disease impacts. Their stories will be highlighted throughout March in Times Square and on Fight Colorectal Cancer’s social media channels. They are survivors, caregivers, friends, and medical professionals speaking out to remove the stigma of the disease and say everyone should have access to preventative screening.

“Colorectal cancer can be an uncomfortable, embarrassing thing to talk about… poop, symptoms… but we need to get past that,” said Melissa Eckert-Zigrang, a nurse, mom of six, and stage IV colorectal cancer survivor who lives in St. Louis, Missouri

The ambassadors are also the newest faces to the #StrongArmSelfie campaign, which sends $1 to Fight Colorectal Cancer to support research, patient education, and advocacy for every public photo posted on social media using the campaign hashtag.  

Because screening saves lives, Fight Colorectal Cancer will be raising awareness through a full lineup of March 2019 events:

Feb. 27:  Survivors ring the opening bell at NASDAQ from the Cologuard Classic in Tucson, Ariz.

March 2: Cleveland Cavaliers awareness night in Cleveland, Ohio

March 7:  80% in Every Community Facebook Live from the American Cancer Society’s headquarters in Atlanta, Ga.

March 17-19:  Call-on Congress in Washington, D.C.

March 23:  Portland Trail Blazers awareness night in Portland, Wash.

“I fight for awareness,” says PGA TOUR pro golfer Tom Lehman, a stage I survivor and Fight CRC celebrity ambassador whose story will be told this March through a new PSA. “Once you’re aware of how common this type of cancer is, you understand the decision to do nothing could be devastating.”

Fight CRC’s March awareness campaign is generously supported by Bristol Myers-Squibb, Exact Sciences, Genentech, Merck, No-Shave November, and Taiho Oncology. #StrongArmSelfie sponsors include Arcus Biosciences, Epipro Colon, and HalioDx.