By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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The national awareness day for the Colon Cancer Alliance was started in 2006 by Port Angeles native Anita Mitchell, a colon cancer survivor.
During the first three years, the event was limited mostly to Western Washington, but since 2009, it has been recognized nationwide.
Mitchell, whose father died of colon cancer, was diagnosed with stage 4 of the disease in 2005.
After going through treatment, she was cancer-free within months after surgery.
“I'm somewhat of a miracle girl. I had a 5 percent chance of five-year survival,” Mitchell said.
In 2009, she approached the Colon Cancer Alliance with the concept of a Dress in Blue Day.
Held the first weekend of March, it became a nationwide kickoff for the March Colon Cancer Awareness Month.
Mitchell now lives and works in Seattle to raise awareness of the disease that almost killed her.
She was awarded the Hero of the Month award for her work by Exact Sciences, a company specializing in cancer screening diagnostic technology.
Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of cancer death but is one of the most preventable diseases, the Colon Cancer Alliance said.
Colon cancer can be detected through regular screenings, beginning at age 50 — or earlier for those at high risk.
There are currently more than 1 million colon cancer survivors in the United States, according to the alliance.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.