By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Commission observes Colon Cancer Awareness Month
Personal stories drive home importance of testing
new_deh_bellendir mug.jpg
Sheriff Brian Bellendir

Barton County Commissioner Jennifer Schartz, who lost her son Dane to the colon cancer, and Sheriff Brian Bellendir, who recovered from the disease, offered their personal experiences as the commission Monday morning approved a proclamation marking March as Colon Cancer Awareness Month.

“I was fortunate, I survived,” Bellendir said. Although he underwent intensive treatment, his case was caught early enough to prevent it from being worse. 

During National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, county citizens are encouraged to learn their family’s health history, to be screened regularly for colorectal cancer with colonoscopies and to see a health-care provider for change in bowel habits, bleeding, unintended weight loss or other symptoms. 

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States behind lung cancer, he said. “Fortunately, it’s very treatable. But, the earlier it is caught, the better.”

The death rate from colorectal cancer has been steadily declining for both men and women for several decades, he said. One reason is because more people are getting screened which helps detect cancers early, when treatment may be more successful.

But, due to COVID-19 and fears of going to the doctor, some are postponing getting tested, he said. This is a bad idea and could cause cases to spike again.

Men and women 45 or older, or those with a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, should talk to their health-care providers about their risk for colorectal cancer and screening, even if they are asymptomatic, said Schartz, District 5 commissioner.

Her son lost is life, but their entire family has since been screened, she said. In fact, this found the cancer in her husband Shannon which was successfully treated.

Ellinwood City Manager Chris Komarek was also present. Both he and his son are survivors.

“It’s out there,” he said. And, it doesn’t discriminate based on age.

According to the proclamation, the Affordable Care Act requires both private insurers and Medicare to cover the costs of screening tests, because these tests are recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force. Citizens are urged to review their health insurance plan for specific details and to contact the insurer with questions related to screenings.

The commission endorsed the message of the American Cancer Society, and encourages all citizens to learn their family’s health history and urged all citizens to be mindful of their health by observing safety practices and to bring their health concerns to their own medical care provider or the Barton County Health Department.

Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

Here’s a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:

• Approved a proclamation marking March as Colon Cancer Awareness Month.

• Approved a proclamation celebrating this as Severe Weather Awareness Week.

• Approved three resolutions for conditional land use permits at the request of AMG Technology Investment Group, Nextlink for the construction of a 120-foot monopole type telecommunications towers. 

They are located: On land owned by the Debra S. and John Ninemire Living Trust northwest of Hoisington off U.S. 281; on land owned by William and Delphine Hickey southwest of Hoisington just off Keystone Road (NW 100 road); and on land owned by Kevin and Erica Rose northwest of Susank.

• Approved the county’s participation in the Federal Funds Exchange program.

The Kansas Department of Transportation is offering to exchange the annual federal funds distribution for state funds at an exchange rate of 90%, County Engineer Barry McManaman said. The county had the option of using the full share of federal funds in the amount of $211,820.54 on a project that would be designed using all federal requirements and restrictions, or accepting 90% of that amount and having the freedom to use the money on road and bridge work at the county’s discretion without following federal requirements. 

The amount available to Barton County is $190,638.48. This is something the county has taken part in for several years.

jennifer schartz
Jennifer Schartz