Dear friends and citizens:
As many of you know, my Linda (Vandeveer) died of colon, pancreatic and liver cancer because she would not get a colonoscopy. Had she gotten this simple procedure 10 years earlier, she could have been treated and still be with us today. I promised her I would share her message in order to save others, and am writing this to clarify something that has been misconstrued, since my Linda's death on Sept. 29, 2016.
I have rented billboards, taken out commercials on TV about colonoscopies and shared my Linda's story in many ways, including a colorectal doctors symposium, a hospital in Ohio, and on the Courthouse Square, for the last nine months. Although I have heard from hundreds that they have heeded the message and listened to their doctors' advice as well as 12 who actually found cancer and were or are being treated, I think you are NOT getting the correct message.
The majority of you think I am just doing a sweet thing to honor my Linda and keep her in everyone's minds. Believe me, this is not the case. I could put a big picture of her on my building to do that and save a lot of money.
What I am about to say is not bragging or complaining; it is being said to help you understand about my Linda's message. I have spent thousands of dollars trying to get this message out to you and your families. My fear is that when the money runs low and the billboards and commercials no longer appear, YOU WILL ALL FORGET how easily a colonoscopy can detect colon and other cancers and that they can be cured. I don't want your money as donations for the “cause.” I want each of you to promise my Linda, me and yourself that you will try to help a loved one stay alive by talking them into having a colonoscopy, especially if there is colon cancer in their family history or they are 50 years or older.
If you refuse a colonoscopy and end up diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer (as in my Linda's case) your families will be put through hell having to endure the pain of watching you suffer a terrible death and losing you forever. We are now seeing people in their 30s developing cancers of the colon. It may be our diets or how the food is grown that we eat which is causing the uptick in cases, but for sure, it is not the colon cancers they have known in the past.
Every time I hear of someone having to endure daily sickness for months, hair loss and tons of appointments during chemo, or removal or bypass of infected organs, it makes me sick, especially if it is colon, liver or pancreatic cancer that could have been detected with a simple colonoscopy.
My Linda made me promise that no matter what it took, that I would share her message with all of you, so you would share it with your loved ones. She never got a colonoscopy until she was 65 and was diagnosed with Stage 4 as a result. She hated what her cancer put me, our kids and especially her grandbabies through. Promise Linda, me and yourself that even after the money runs out and there are no more billboards or commercials, that you will continuously share this message with your loved ones, friends and even, coworkers.
“COLONOSCOPY, IT IS TRULY THE GIFT OF LIFE.”
Jerry Vandeveer is a resident of Fort Wayne.