MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – For ten years the Minnesota Colon Cancer Coalition has been on a mission to make the words colon, colorrectal and colonoscopy a part of the everyday language.

The organization believes it can overcome the fear and decrease deaths from the largely preventable cancer.

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Last year thousands come out to participate in the Get Your Rear In Gear walk and run.

Donated money goes toward helping raise awareness and increase screenings.

There’s a push to get people under the age of 50 to get screened if they have a family history or see symptoms.

The Get Your Rear In Gear walk and run is part of that push, and many people, like Kim Newcomer, are supporting the effort to inform.

Newcomer enjoys every moment life gives her.

Putting together packets for the thousands taking part in this year’s Get Your Rear In Gear walk run is something she is glad to do.

For Newcomer, the volunteer work is personal.

“I am a stage four colorectal cancer survivor. I was diagnosed at the age of 35,” Newcomer said.

Newcomer is one of many cancer survivors who was diagnosed before the recommended screening age of 50.

“I do have family history. My father was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 46, and I was actually a year away from having my colonoscopy when I was already stage four with no symptoms,” Newcomer said.

Newcomer let her doctors know about that family history.

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It was her constant persistence that led to testing that gave way to her diagnosis.

Six surgeries and countless chemo and radiation treatments later, Newcomer has been cancer free for two years.

“Colon cancer is the only cancer that’s preventable. If you catch it in its early stages it’s preventable, it’s treatable and it’s beatable,” Newcomer said.

The Colon Cancer Coalition in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Health is behind a new campaign.

The billboard can be seen all across the state, letting people know about the need to know you family history and to get screened.

“We’re seeing a trend in the under-40 population,” Anne Carlson, executive director of the Colon Cancer Coalition, said.

Carlson says younger people with symptoms and family history should make sure to be honest with their doctor.

“I also think they’re getting misdiagnosed sometimes as irritable bowel syndrome, stress is a big thing, and then they’re sent home with IBS. And they are coming back ten years later and they are stage four. Get screened, know you’re history.” Carlson said.

Newcomer says doing just that can save your life.

“I know it’s something that people don’t like to do, but it’s easy. It’s easier than going through all the stress. It’s easier than telling your loved ones you got cancer,” Carlson said.

Get your Rear in Gear will take place Sunday, May 18 at the Southdale Mall in Edina.

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For those who cannot make the walk, there is a way to contribute online.

Reg Chapman