When you're the Queen Mum of heavy metal's royal family, everything's a bit different -- even cancer. "I had a whole team of people to take me to and from chemotherapy, to cook for me, to do everything for me," recalls Sharon Osbourne, wife of metal madman Ozzy Osbourne, of her bout with colon cancer in 2002.
Osbourne, 59, now a host of The Talk on CBS and a judge on NBC's America's Got Talent, will celebrate 10 years of being cancer-free this year, but she still remembers the rigors. "The stuff you hate is always the vain stuff: losing your hair, your nails. And the hair that's left is just dead stuff," she recalls.
Beginning at the age of 50, everyone should be screened regularly for colorectal cancer (earlier screening is recommended for some high-risk groups). There are several options.
The traditional screening routine was for the doctor to perform a digital rectal exam once a year and for you to collect three stool samples to be tested for traces of blood. Also, every three to five years you would receive a sigmoidoscopy and a double-contrast barium enema to look at the lower part of the bowel. If anything...
But Osbourne knew that many of the men and women in treatment with her at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles had it worse. "You sit next to people and you're all on the same journey, and it doesn't matter who you are. Then you leave -- and you see this lady waiting at the bus stop after her chemo and you just feel so guilty," Osbourne recalls.
That woman and others like her inspired Osbourne to create the Sharon Osbourne Colon Cancer Program at Cedars-Sinai in 2004. The program supports cancer patients with at-home help, transportation, child care, and other assistance.
"We have people who will pick you up, take you to treatment, take you home, watch your kids, cook for you," Osbourne explains. "If they're taken care of, you can focus on getting well."
Nearly 150,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer every year in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. Even though it's been 10 years, Osbourne doesn't take her cancer-free status for granted. "Every day I celebrate in my head. Every day is a gift." To learn more about her Cedars-Sinai program, go to sharonosbourne.com and click on "Support My Cancer Program."