Olympus Corp. of the Americas Raises Voices for Colorectal Cancer Awareness

Olympus works with patients and organizations throughout the year to highlight screening, prevention, and access to healthcare

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., (March 26, 2024) – Deondre Williams’ father was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in his twenties. Deondre said his father never talked about that kind of thing, and his family didn’t generally have conversations about their health.

At age 35, he was diagnosed with Stage 2 colorectal cancer (CRC). With two of his five children in their early twenties, Deondre – now 42 and cancer free for six years – said he’s not going to avoid discussing his health given the links between his family and CRC.

“I’m going to make sure I have those conversations with my kids,” he said.

As part of its commitment to CRC awareness, Olympus Corporation (OCA) of the Americas partners with groups like the Colorectal Cancer Alliance (CCA) during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and throughout the year to help educate individuals and their families about the importance of preventive screenings and knowing their family health history.

Deondre was part of a panel discussion hosted by Olympus and the CCA that featured patients and a family caregiver sharing their stories about CRC along with a patient navigator who discussed helping patients and their families figure out what happens after a diagnosis. The event, held at Olympus Corporation of the Americas corporate headquarters in Center Valley, Pa., was streamed live on Facebook and is available to view here.

Doctors diagnosed Rebecca Bixby with Stage 4 rectal cancer and tumors on her lungs and liver at age 40 after she experienced symptoms that included blood in her stool and recurring abdominal pain. Symptoms were attributed possibly to her diet or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Bixby told the audience that she “had no time to think about being sick” and probably suffered from the “arrogance of being young” as she felt healthy, she exercised and ate well.

While initially not concerned about her symptoms that were also dismissed by healthcare providers, Bixby – herself a nurse – said doubt started to creep in and she eventually began pushing harder for a diagnosis. She encouraged others to advocate for themselves.

“In retrospect, I would never advise myself as a nurse to sit on symptoms that could have been concerning, let alone life threatening,” said Bixby, who continues treatment. “But it’s the furthest thing from your mind.”

Ongoing CRC Awareness Efforts

Olympus is partnering with the CCA on a four-part webinar series focusing on heath equity. Discussions will center on issues impacting the CRC community and address healthcare-wide issues facing the most vulnerable populations. The series begins in April and topics will include:

  • Did We Miss the Window? Is Health Equity Dead?
  • Leading Effective and Culturally Relevant Awareness Campaigns.
  • Lived Experiences: Where Patient Believability and Data Intersect.
  • Disaggregating the Data: Why Intersectionality is Essential to the Racial Health Equity Conversation.

Olympus understands the importance of colon cancer awareness and as such supports major national colorectal cancer organizations and initiatives as part of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and beyond, including:

  • Colorectal Cancer Alliance – Blue Hope Financial Assistance Program and sponsor of a one-day satellite media tour to help raise awareness around CRC prevention.
  • Colon Cancer Coalition – National presenting sponsor of “Tour de Tush” and a sponsor of “Get Your Rear in Gear.”
  • “Bum Run Toronto” – Seat of the Matter sponsor.
  • DaVinci Science Center – Olympus is sponsoring the Endoscopic Explorer Exhibit that will show how an endoscope is used during a colonoscopy and highlight the signs and symptoms of CRC.
  • Supporting a 2021 recommendation by the United States Preventive Services Task Force to begin CRC screenings at age 45 for all individuals.
  • Supporting the decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to eliminate cost sharing for Medicare beneficiaries who have a colonoscopy in follow-up to a positive at-home colorectal cancer test and for Medicare to cover colonoscopies beginning at age 45.

Olympus Corp. of the Americas hosted a panel discussion March 12 about colorectal cancer (CRC) awareness. The panel discussion included, from left, Kurt Cannon, Olympus, Vice President of Endoscopy Marketing; early onset CRC patients Rebecca Bixby and Deondre Williams; CRC family caregiver Ayla Cobb; and Marianne Pearson, senior director of patient navigation with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance.

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About Olympus
At Olympus, we are committed to Our Purpose of making people’s lives healthier, safer and more fulfilling. As a global medical technology company, we partner with healthcare professionals to provide best-in-class solutions and services for early detection, diagnosis and minimally invasive treatment, aiming to improve patient outcomes by elevating the standard of care in targeted disease states.

For more than 100 years, Olympus has pursued a goal of contributing to society by producing products designed with the purpose of delivering optimal outcomes for its customers around the world.

Olympus Corporation of the Americas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Olympus Corporation, is headquartered in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, USA, and employs more than 4,500 employees throughout locations in North and South America. For more information, visit olympusamerica.com.