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The month of March has been designated as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Unfortunately, American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) people are experiencing higher colorectal cancer rates than any other ethnicity in the United States.

Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer among AI/AN people, 

During the month of March, the American Indian Cancer Foundation wants to raise awareness of its Sixth Annual Blue Beads campaign. This year the Blue Beads campaign is co-sponsored by Exact Sciences and Mayo Clinic. Through this dynamic sponsorship, the American Indian Cancer Foundation will amplify the seriousness of colorectal cancer through education to promote colorectal health, screening, and early detection. 

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This year’s Blue Beads campaign is supporting 30 tribal and urban Indian clinics to implement innovative, culturally responsive, community-based smart practices that engage and motivate community members in working towards effective and sustainable colorectal cancer solutions. Each participating clinic has planned activities to engage with their tribal communities, two of these Clinic Champions are highlighted here. 

The White Earth Indian Health Service will offer opportunities for community to contribute to storyboards featuring colon cancer education, ribbon trees to commemorate the lives and memories of loved ones with colon cancer and “Get Your Rear in Gear” promotional tshirts will be available for staff to wear throughout the month to spark conversation about Colorectal Awareness. The White Earth Health Service is geared up to provide education, and hopes to increase cancer screening rates during the month of March and continue the effort throughout the year. 

The Bois Forte Medical Clinics (Vermilion & Nett Lake Clinics) will present in-person Colorectal Cancer Awareness education to community members and clinic patients during in-person exams. Education materials and tools will be hand-delivered and discussed during appointments. Each patient scheduled will be offered gut friendly snacks, participation prizes and entered into a raffle. Throughout the month of March, community members will find clinic staff dressed in blue promotional t-shirts, promoting colorectal health and colorectal awareness month. The clinics will engage the whole tribal community by promoting “Blu Lighting” where every home is encouraged to put up blue lights in recognition of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. 

The American Indian Cancer Foundation encourages Native relatives to prioritize their overall health. Gut health is a vital aspect of overall well-being. By getting screened for colorectal cancer and incorporating healthy traditional foods into everyday diets, we can take proactive steps toward preventing and managing this disease. It is important to talk to your health care provider about your gut health, your family history, and when screening is right for you.

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