Yes, I did that.

St. Joe’s Health Reporter Lila Lazarus broadcast her routine colonoscopy on Facebook Live to raise awareness about the importance of screening and prevention.

“You did what!?”

That’s the usual reaction when people hear I had my colonoscopy on Facebook Live.

Why on Earth would you do that?” is usually the follow-up question.

In case you don’t know what a colonoscopy is – it’s when a trained specialist, in this case, St. Joe’s colorectal surgeon Dr. Amanda McClure, takes a probe with a tiny HD camera and goes six feet in through the patient’s rectum and colon. She examines the lining of the colon – which is where colon cancer starts – and searches for pre-cancerous polyps.

Only this colonoscopy was a little more…public. My colonoscopy was broadcast live on social media. Thousands have now seen the inside of my colon and rectum on Facebook. They watched as Dr. McClure narrated a journey through my large intestine looking for growths on the lining— precancerous polyps. 

If you watch the procedure, you’ll see the moment she spots a polyp and quickly and painlessly removes it. It turned out to be a tubular adenoma. “Glad we found it and took it off,” Dr. McClure told me the next day. It’s considered benign, but cancer can sometimes develop in an adenoma if it’s not removed. And with a family history of colon cancer, I’m relieved she found it and got rid of it.

But if you really want to know why I would have such a private exam in such a public manner, here are 8 good reasons:

  1. Colon cancer kills far too many people. It’s the No. 2 cancer killer. I want people to know that and do something about it. You don’t want to wait until you have symptoms. “Symptoms don’t usually occur until the cancer is advanced,” Dr. McClure warns.
  2. Colon cancer is preventable. It’s one of the few cancers that’s more than 90% preventable if you get a colonoscopy. “If caught early, most colon cancers are curable,” Dr. McClure said. By removing a polyp, she reduced my risk of dying from colon cancer by more than 50%. And by putting myself (or at least my backside) out there, I’m hoping to urge you to reduce your risk as well by making an appointment for a colonoscopy.
  3. It was easy! Yes, she inserted the probe exactly where she was supposed to, but I never felt a thing. Maybe if people know how painless the whole procedure is, they’ll be less reluctant to have it done. “The colonoscopy is usually done under sedation,” said Dr. McClure. “Patients don’t feel or remember anything.”
  4. The prep was easy. Honest! It was uneventful but for two action packed hours that left me feeling five pounds thinner. I drank the small glass of prep on Facebook Live the night before which evidently piqued people’s interest (6,000 people watched how simple it was). Then, I slept like a baby. The next morning, I drank another glass of the prep leading to a little urgency but nothing to write home about, as I was basically empty by then. That was it! “You don’t have to drink liters upon liters to get clean,” Dr. McClure said. She was right.
  5. Colonoscopies are quick. The actual procedure can take less than 15 minutes.
  6. Colonoscopies save lives. I’m hoping that someone saw my colonoscopy, saw how easy and painless it was, and will make the decision to get tested.
  7. We’re all at risk for colon cancer. If you have a colon, you should be tested. And don’t think you’re too young to be at risk. “We’ve seen an increase in colon cancer occurring in younger people,” said Dr. McClure. “So much so that screening guidelines have been changed to start screening at age 45.” 
  8. Not talking about colonoscopies costs lives. In truth, my first colonoscopy was part of a health report on television 20 years ago. So, the idea of exposing my colon again on Facebook Live wasn’t that much of a stretch. And Dr. McClure was completely in favor. “I’m thrilled we did it!” she said. “I hope we can dispel some of the myths associated with the procedure and show people it isn’t as scary as it may sound. In fact, it’s a simple, safe procedure that could save your life!”  

    Thank you Dr. McClure. I have no doubt you saved mine. See you in five years!

You can watch our Colonoscopy post-show on Facebook and learn more about St. Joe’s Colon and Rectal program.

Lila’s Health Report:
In order to stay healthy, you need to stay active and engaged. In addition to exercise, good nutrition and sleep, you also need a good dose of adventure. So each month I’ll share ways to boost the excitement and passion in your life with adventurous ways to create more wellness in your body, mind and your spirit.

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