March 8th is International Women’s Day, a day for celebrating womens’ accomplishments and raising awareness about the challenges they still face.

In terms of health, women in Canada are truly blessed. They have a long life expectancy, with access to basic health care. They have an extremely  low maternal death rate, meaning healthier pregnancies.  They have access to vaccines against conditions like HPV.  In 2010, urging a female relative to schedule her mammograms has become a way of showing love and solidarity for womanhood, and preventing breast cancer has become a dinner table conversation.

But while there is no doubt that talking about it has saved many lives,  breast cancer is not the only cancer that women may face.

We mustn’t let women forget that other forms of cancer are Preventable, Treatable and Beatable if caught early. Many still incorrectly believe that colorectal cancer is a man’s disease, but it affects men and women nearly equally. While talking about mammograms has become de-stigmatized, mentioning the word “colonoscopy” can still illicit nervous giggling and sometimes even disgust. Many women may not even know what the procedure actually entails or how vital early detection is.

Colorectal cancer’s blue ribbon isn’t be used in the marketing of hundreds of fun products, like its pink ribbon counterpart. It’s not talked about as openly, either- a Google search for “colorectal cancer” garners only 14,800,000 hits, while “breast cancer” garners 36,600,000. We’re clearly hesitant to talk about colorectal cancer, even though it is the second greatest cause of cancer death in North America.

This post is not meant to trivialize the incredible journeys of women with breast cancer or to criticize the breast cancer advocacy movement, which has experienced truly inspirational growth in the past decade. Rather, the CCAC wants Canadians of both genders to think about the health of their colons, and to join us in our mission to educate and de-stigmatize conversations about colorectal cancer.

And so we’re asking you to help us celebrate International Women’s Day. Teach a woman you care about that healthy lifestyle choices can decrease her risk of colorectal cancer. Urge her to schedule her colonoscopy. Remind her that taking steps to prevent colorectal cancer may prolong her life and allow her to continue to celebrate the achievements of women well into her elder years.

Click here to view statistics about gender and colorectal cancer.

Click here to read a Resolution Regarding Colorectal Cancer, written by Kathy Dahlkemper.

Click here to read about International Women’s Day.