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Colorectal cancer survivor encourages awareness

By: Mary Clark The Press Tribune
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The 2nd annual Putt for Your Butt golf tournament has a silly name and a serious purpose.

Florence Kurttila, a cancer survivor in her 11th cancer-free year, is a board member for the California Colorectal Cancer Coalition, a nonprofit organization established to increase colorectal cancer screening rates in an effort to decrease deaths associated with the disease.

Diagnosed with colorectal cancer at age 48, Kurttila trooped through a barrage of tests, surgery, medications and chemotherapy while balancing work and her family. Her harrowing experiences led her to become an advocate, enthusiastically encouraging others to receive screening for colorectal cancer. Kurttila and the rest of C4 will be hosting the Putt for Your Butt golf tournament and luncheon in hopes of raising awareness of the importance of colorectal cancer screening.

1. When did you first learn you had cancer?

I was a walker and took a walk faithfully each evening with my husband. After a walk one evening, I developed a pain that left me really winded, as it was quite unusual. I went to my doctor’s office at a noon appointment the next day, and the battery of tests and medications began. Two weeks later, I was diagnosed with colon cancer after a CT scan, biopsy and surgery.

2. How long did you battle your cancer and what was the impact like on your family? 

Within one day after diagnosis, I was taken into a five-hour surgery where two thirds of my colon was removed.  I stayed in the hospital 11 days after that.  I had chemotherapy for 26 weeks.  My family was great – my children, who are grown, always gave me a “can do” attitude with all the support anyone could want.  My husband was also great with everything that I needed support with, from special food, to rest, to daily responsibilities.

3. How has your experience shaped you and what have you learned? 

I’ve learned that I had cancer – I didn’t let it have me.  I started advocacy work with the American Cancer Society and became a board member of C4.  I participated in relays.  I spoke as a survivor.  I started giving encouragement to people who were newly diagnosed. I have become a resource!

4. What is the goal of the Putt for Your Butt event? 

The goal is awareness as well as raising funds for the C4 organization, which accomplishes so much in the way of community outreach, screening, education, research and collaboration with other organizations, as well as fun on the golf course! 

5. When should people be screened for colorectal cancer? 

Colorectal cancer can be prevented most of the time if screening occurs.  If you have a history of colon cancer in your family, talk to your health care professional.  Get screened earlier and more often than waiting until you are 50! If you have any warning signs (and I did not), get screened! Don’t put it off – don’t be embarrassed – it may save your life.

 

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Putt for your Butt
When: 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 1
Where: Turkey Creek Golf Course, 1525 Highway 193 in Lincoln
Cost: $115 per player/$460 per foursome.
Info: Register online at www.active.com by Sept. 12