Grammy and Emmy award winner, and Tony award nominee, the multi-talented musician, singer and actor Harry Connick Jr. and his wife of 24 years and former model, Jill Connick, recently marked the fifth anniversary of Jill’s recovery from breast cancer.
As Jill credits timely screening and early detection for being a cancer survivor today, she is joining Harry to share their experience and to raise awareness of another cancer for which timely screening is critical: colon cancer. Their efforts will support The New 50, a public education campaign sponsored by Exact Sciences, that debuts today during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The initiative aims to encourage people 50 and older to talk with their healthcare provider about screening, including the modern, noninvasive options that can fit into any schedule of this busy on-the-go “new 50” generation.
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women combined, claiming over 50,000 lives each year. Despite this, approximately 35 million people are not current with screening, as recommended. The New 50 campaign aims to make a difference in those numbers as 90 percent of colon cancers can be treated if detected early.
“I know firsthand the value of early detection,” said Connick. “Sadly, my own mother lost her battle with ovarian cancer when I was only 13 years old, but Jill and I are so grateful that a routine mammogram and sonogram found her breast cancer in the early stages, which we believe saved her life. Now that we are on the other side of that experience, we want to spread the word about the life-saving importance of timely screening, in particular for colon cancer, a disease for which screening rates are way too low.”
Connick, who was recently screened for colon cancer, added, “I was surprised to learn that colon cancer is the most preventable yet least prevented cancer. Jill and I are eager to do what we can to remind folks 50 and older how important and easy it is now to get screened.”
Sponsored by Exact Sciences, the initiative is also supported by leading colon cancer advocacy groups, including the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC), and the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation. These organizations have made it their mission to support people impacted by colon cancer through education, support and research.
About The New 50 and Noninvasive Screening Methods
Thanks to advances in science and medicine, people are living longer and healthier than previous generations – changing what it means to be 50 today. The New 50 campaign spotlights a modern screening option, Cologuard, which uses advanced technology to detect changes in stool DNA that indicate cancer and precancer.
“Many of my patients understand the importance of colon cancer screening, but fear the more traditional tests which involve uncomfortable preparation, sedation and time off work,” said Dr. Jacqueline Champlain, a family medicine physician at Austin Regional Clinic. “Modern screening options, like Cologuard, break down these barriers, and give me the opportunity to offer my patients an effective and convenient solution that can be used in the privacy of home and does not interrupt their lives. That’s the beauty of being 50 today – patients have options and they just need to talk to their healthcare provider to determine the one that is right for them – because that is the one that will get done.”
Over the next year, as part of The New 50 campaign, Harry and Jill will travel cross-country – to Austin, Denver, Detroit, Phoenix, Tampa and Harry’s hometown of New Orleans – to host community events where they will share their experience with cancer and educate people on the importance of timely colon cancer screening. In both local and national forums, the Connicks will invite the thousands of people age 50 and older who have not yet been screened to join them in the #ScreenWithMe Challenge which includes pledging to take action to get screened and encouraging three of their loved ones to do the same. The challenge will generate a $1 donation per pledge to support colon cancer research and advocacy undertaken by campaign partners: Fight Colorectal Cancer, Colorectal Cancer Alliance and the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation.
To learn more, visit www.New50.com.