Her unanticipated journey as a cancer advocate is the subject of a personal essay by Katie Couric published online in The American Journal of Gastroenterology (AJG) to coincide with March National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, An Unexpected Turn: My Life as a Cancer Advocate.

Ms. Couric shares the experience of losing her husband, the lawyer and TV commentator Jay Monahan, at age 42 to colorectal cancer in 1998. Ms. Couric’s piece describes the start of her commitment to cancer advocacy while at the Today Show and outlines the trajectory of her work to become a notable champion in the fight against cancer.

“Katie Couric has used her stature and visibility through many different media platforms so effectively to encourage colorectal cancer screening, and we are proud to publish her essay in The American Journal of Gastroenterology,” commented co-Editor-in-Chief, Brennan M.R. Spiegel, MD, MSHS, FACG.

“Thanks to her courage and candor, so many people associate Ms. Couric with colonoscopy and colorectal cancer prevention. It was a natural for a gastroenterology journal to share her reflections with our readers,” added Brian E. Lacy, MD, PhD, FACG, AJG’s co-Editor-in-Chief.

Ms. Couric’s televised colonoscopy in 2000 inspired many Americans to get screened for colorectal cancer. A study published in Archives of Internal Medicine by Dr. Peter Cram and colleagues documented the dramatic increase in the number of colonoscopies performed in the months after the broadcast, the so-called “Couric Effect.”

In her essay, Ms. Couric describes how in March 2000, working with the cancer activist Lilly Tartikoff and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, she co-founded the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (NCCRA) to raise research funds and awareness. “We forged alliances with people, organizations, and companies that could help champion our cause,” writes Ms. Couric.

Recently, Ms. Couric has broadened her commitment to the larger fight against cancer by co-founding Stand Up To Cancer, a charitable initiative of the Entertainment Industry Foundation.

For more information about colorectal cancer screening from the American College of Gastroenterology visit www.gi.org/ColonCancer.

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