Burford farmer helps spread the word about colon cancer screening

Burford farmer helps spread the word about colon cancer screening

BRANT COUNTY — Burford farmer Larry Davis is well-known in Brant and beyond for his powerful singing voice.

A member of choirs including Brant Men of Song and the Ontario Male Chorus, Larry is now lending his voice to something new by partnering with the Brant County Health Unit and Regional Cancer Program to promote colon cancer screening for Colon Cancer Awareness Month in March.

Ontario men and women ages 50 to 74 with no symptoms of colon cancer or first-degree family history (parent, sibling or child diagnosed with the disease) are encouraged to take a simple, free at-home test every two years as part of their routine medical care. Called the Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT), it’s offered through the province’s ColonCancerCheck program and is designed to catch signs of colon cancer early, when it’s easier to treat and beat.

Colon cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ontario and the second most common cause of cancer deaths. When caught early, nine out of every 10 people can be cured. Yet provincially and regionally about 40 percent of eligible men and women are overdue for screening.

“This makes it more important than ever for people to get checked for this disease beginning in their early 50s – even if they have no family history of the disease or if they don’t have uncomfortable symptoms such as change in bowel habit, rectal bleeding or abdominal pain,” said Dr. Barry Lumb, Regional Endoscopy Lead for ColonCancerCheck, Physician in Chief at Hamilton Health Sciences and Professor with McMaster University’s Department of Medicine.

Larry had no symptoms or family history, and he’s never been diagnosed with colon cancer. He started taking the screening test every two years because his family doctor recommended it as part of his heath care routine.

“Good health is vital to my ability to make a living,” said Larry, who grows corn, soybeans and hay, and also raises horses and sheep. A typical day starts at 6:45 a.m. with chores including caring for animals, cutting wood and working on machinery.

Larry also enjoys hunting, riding his motorcycle and being an active member in community groups including choirs, the Masons and the Burford Agricultural Society.

“Staying healthy allows me to continue enjoying these activities,” said Larry. “I would definitely encourage my friends and neighbours to make time for this screening test as part of their routine medical care. It’s easy to complete and can be done in the privacy of their own home.”

The FOBT is available through healthcare providers such as family doctors and nurse practitioners. Anyone who doesn’t have a healthcare provider can call Telehealth Ontario’s colon cancer screening line at 1-866-828-9213 for information on how to obtain a kit.