March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and instead of advising you on how to care for your senior this month, we thought we'd advise you on how to increase the likelihood of becoming a healthy senior yourself.

Over 50? Time to Have That Colonoscopy Party!

If you were standing in the middle of a busy street or highway, with the very real possibility of being hit by a car or truck, would you take immediate action to get out of the way? When it comes to Colorectal (CR) Cancer, it’s often as simple as that.

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States when men and women are considered separately, and the second leading cause when both sexes are combined. It is expected to cause about 49,380 deaths during 2011.

Yet, it’s one of the most preventable of all cancers, and curable via early detection in most cases. But that’s not enough to convince everyone to get the necessary exam.

Why? It’s often the stigma or awkwardness of the colonoscopy that prevents many otherwise intelligent persons (mostly men, and a small percentage of women) from doing it. It’s human nature – most men won't even get an annual physical without the persistent prodding of a spouse.

In response to this, I had the wacky idea that if I repackaged these diagnostic exams around a weekend party with my best buddies, I could outmaneuver male resistance – my own included – and have fun while possibly saving a life.

Scopefest 2011: Injecting a Little Humor into Cancer Screening

We decided to call it Scopefest and each one of us agreed to take our turn on the table. We shared the experience, making all the usual jokes. We also shared the concern when one of us turned out to have polyps that, thankfully, turned out to be benign. Then we had our party at a swank hotel in West Hollywood, toasting our good sense, good fortune, and good friendship. All in all, it was a great experience.

But it didn’t stop there: Our colonoscopy party concept ignited a small media storm. We were interviewed by John & Ken on KFI, and even had an embedded journalist from the Daily Post follow us through the procedures and the party. Dr. Bruce Hensel also covered us on the local NBC affiliate, which you can see for yourself at

Scopefest was our fun idea and we invite you to make it your own–with your buddies or your best girlfriends. Most of us need to start having colonoscopy exams around the time we turn 50, but individual factors vary, and family history is an important determining factor.

Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer for men is about 1 in 20, slightly less for women. That’s over 5% of us! Don’t be one of them. Start your own Scopefest with friends, schedule your colonoscopies, and prevent CR cancer from negatively impacting your life today.

Jack C. Merrick is the co-owner and co-executive director of Good Company Senior Care, an independent, in-home caregiver service with offices in Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties.