We all know someone who has been touched by cancer – whether it’s a neighbor, friend, or family member, and the heartbreak it can cause.
The west Bronx community has stepped into action with a ‘Go Blue’ campaign, launched this past Friday by the Fordham Road Business Improvement District.
The first of its kind in the entire NYC area, the campaign strives to raise awareness about colon cancer, the second largest cancer killer in New York State, by getting local businesses to help spread the word. This type of cancer is one of the easiest types to prevent – more than half of lives lost due to the disease could be saved with simple screenings.
“This is the busiest shopping district in the Bronx,” said Daniel Bernstein, deputy director of the Fordham Road BID, and chair of the Bronx Cancer Society, “I look at this as an opportunity to educate people in a unique way.”
He says that while cancer is a huge topic of conversation, often it’s breast or lung cancer that is focused on and other little known cancers go without any press, colon cancer being a prime example.
A big difference between this campaign and other cancer related events is that the goal is not to raise funds – only awareness.
As an estimated 80 to 100 thousand people patronize the Fordham Road area each day, the district is a great location for outreach.
Local businesses, 19 and counting, are getting in the spirit by handing out information, having employees wear blue, and even offering ‘blue plate’ specials to hungry customers.
Bernstein explained that the campaign relies on the creativity and community involvement to gain traction rather than dollar signs.
The idea is for people to ask – “hey, why is this blue?” and inadvertently receive a quick education about colon cancer.
For Bernstein, the cause hits close to home – his mother passed away from cancer when he was a teen, and his father survived the disease. He himself has been touched in the past.
“I want to let people know there are little things you can do in your life to help you stay away from cancer,” he said.
Adults over the age of 50 should be routinely screened for colon cancer, women over the age of 21 should be screened for cervical cancer, and women over the age of 50 should be screened for breast cancer.
These tests are almost always covered by insurance, however if you do not have insurance, the NYS Department of Health’s Cancer Services Program provides free cancer screenings to eligible men and women.
“You may not want to run out and do it… but you can add years to your life,” says Bernstein.