Family of John Andretti partnering to make colonoscopies free of charge in N.C.
Initiative spurred from John's death from colorectal cancer in 2020
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WWAY) – March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. More than 50,000 Americans are expected to die from the dreadful disease this year. That trails only lung cancer as the largest cancer killer in America.
Treatment is tough. The best way to avoid it is early detection through screening. New studies suggests screening should begin at 45 instead of 50. However, access to care is not universal and many locals decide not to get screened for a potential plethora of reasons.
“Our statistics are actually going to be much worse,” said Dr. Kent Locklear who is the Chief Medical Officer at The Cape Fear Clinic. “It’s clear that colon cancer screening is one of the most if not the most important of all the cancer screening tools that we have. It unfortunately does involve the commitment of some resources on the specialty side. About 10 years ago, we realized our patient population was not getting access to these services.”
Wilmington GI and Hanover GI gave commitments to Cape Fear clinic to help support this effort. After seeing that wasn’t enough to meet local demand, there was movement to create more free services.
State-wide, to help meet the need, the Andretti family is stepping up. John Andretti died Jan. 30, 2020 from colorectal cancer. His birthday was Saturday, March 12. His son and wife, Jarett and Nancy Andretti, do a lot to honor his memory, but want his legacy to transcend the race track.
John was diagnosed with colon cancer and did not want to go public with it, but was encouraged that if he did, he could raise awareness. #Checkit4Andretti is now featured on many race cars. Sadly, John succumbed to the disease in January on 2020.
“After he passed away, my children and I, we thought about it. We decided to keep it going. John would want us to keep it going,” said Nancy Andretti.
“He didn’t get checked until he was 53. I think we would be having a much different conversation if he got checked at 50 as opposed to 53. His doctor said he didn’t need to get checked. He said he was healthy,” said Jarret Andretti.
They created a 501c3 and a website for Checkit4Andretti. It has more information on the Andretti’s families initiative, John’s story, and resources they are promoting. The foundation worked with the North Carolina Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, which represents 73 clinics serving uninsured residents across the state, to identify low-income, high-risk patients to receive the free screenings.
The Cape Fear Clinic has the same motive locally.
“Income shouldn’t be a bar to get in to these valuable services. That’s what Cape Fear Clinic is all about. I can tell that’s what Check4Andretti – the program in the Charlotte area – that’s what it’s all about,” said Dr. Locklear. “There shouldn’t be barriers to getting these services.”
Colorectal screenings are one of dozens of services that they can provide to the uninsured.
“The more people we can get in the door, the more folks we can offer these lifesaving services to.”
See if you qualify for free services at Capefearclinic.org