Catherine Murray-Rust

Catherine Murray-Rust

I love academic libraries and have spent my whole career building and advocating for them. Now I have a new passion, saving lives by providing information and encouragement to prevent colon cancer. Research universities are wonderful places to work because the emphasis is on the future. The students and faculty members are the people who will find therapies to help people live with chronic illness such as cancer and perhaps even find cures. They will need time and funding to make progress, but they will make progress.

In addition to believing in science and technology, the story of my diagnosis with colon cancer has many lessons for everyone. I have had surgery and am now in a long course of chemotherapy. I also try all the complementary therapies I can, including meditation, yoga, exercise, nutrition, counseling, journaling and blogging. I am saving acupuncture until the time that the side effects become worse. I have an excellent chance, but I want to prevent others from traveling down this road into the parallel universe of cancer.

Here is what you can do for yourself and your family:

  1. Have you first colonoscopy (no other test is as effective) at age 50. Go earlier if you have a history of colon cancer in your extended family.
  2. Have the test every five years if you can. If your insurance company will not pay for it until seven to ten years, consider paying for it yourself.
  3. Become an advocate for private insurance companies paying for the test if you live in a state which does not require it. So far there are 28 states that require coverage.

The people who love you depend on you and want you to stick around as long as possible. Colon cancer is 90% preventable and is the second leading cause of death in the U.S., more than breast cancer and AIDS combined. You do not have to be one of those who need treatment or who die early.

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The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the nation's premier research universities. Ranked seventh among U.S. News & World Report's top public universities, Georgia Tech's more than 19,000 students are enrolled in its Colleges of Architecture, Computing, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Management and Sciences. Tech is among the nation's top producers of women and African-American engineers. The Institute offers research opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students and is home to more than 100 interdisciplinary units plus the Georgia Tech Research Institute.