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Free Clinic of Central Virginia Focuses on Colon Cancer Education

Written by Alyssa Wilson, University of Lynchburg Bonner Intern

More and more people under the age of 45 are being diagnosed with colon cancer every day, making it one of the highest occurring cancers in that demographic. However, the Free Clinic of Central Virginia is currently on a mission to spread awareness about the disease. 
The Free Clinic was originally established to serve neighbors of central VA who do not have access to reliable healthcare, but their mission has spread widely since its inception and they establish new initiatives as they notice what the community needs.
On March 23 the clinic is hosting a Colon Cancer 5K with the theme “No one walks alone” to raise awareness and funds for the clinic’s screening processes. 
“Everybody poops,” says Jen Webb, CEO of the Free Clinic, who finds that people often associate a “gross” factor with the screening process for colon cancer and may steer clear despite its importance. 
Typical screening processes include a full colonoscopy which requires a strict laxatives regiment in order to prepare for the procedure. At the Free Clinic, however, noninvasive options are available. 
Screening for colon cancer is important in making sure the disease is caught early as symptoms often do not start to show until the third and fourth stages.
At stage one the five year survival rate is greater than 95%, 91% at stage two, 50% at stage three and drops to a low 11% at stage four. 
“Screening really changes and saves lives, so we’re really trying to start this campaign to get people to look at their poop,” says Webb. 
The Free Clinic is using a six-foot sized colon to take around the community and share education tools about how to catch the disease early and why it is so important. 
Anyone in the community can help support this initiative by participating in the colon cancer 5K either as a runner or as a volunteer helping with a number of race day preparations.
In addition to their recent push on education around colon cancer, the clinic was able to hire a dentist through grant funding and is starting an initiative to serve more high school students. 
There are qualifications that patients must meet in order to be served, but regardless of who you are the Free Clinic of Central Virginia makes it a point to find everyone the care they need, even if it is not under their roof. 

To learn more about the Free Clinic and upcoming volunteer and events opportunities visit their SHARE Greater Lynchburg profile.

To see the Free Clinic of Central Virginia featured on The Mike Show, click here.

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