Late Friday night my mom called to ask if I’d seen the CBS-TV advertisement for a “colonoscopy contest”.
She’d been watching the NCAA basketball finals, and swore that just afterwards this “incredibly hokey” commercial had come on, offering the chance to win a vacation trip to NYC for a free colonoscopy test.
I assumed she’d fallen asleep on the couch and dreamed the whole thing. Or, perhaps she was so distraught over the Texas loss that she was delusional. She admitted that if it’d been Saturday, she’d have assumed it was Saturday Night Live. But it wasn’t.
I found the contest entry page verbiage downright bizarre. Here’s a sample:
“When the colonoscopy is about to begin, you'll be given drugs which will make you feel like you're at Woodstock... only without the music. If you start to believe that you actually are at Woodstock (for example, Dr. Miskovitz starts to look like Jimi Hendrix or you feel inclined to say "far out!" in response to questions), please report the side effect to Dr. Miskovitz or Jimi Hendrix (whomever you see first) immediately.”
Um, I assume this supposed to appeal to us aging boomers? You have to be between 40 and 79 years old to enter the contest, I noticed. Do they think we still want to drop acid? Before a colonoscopy? O, the horror.
I have seriously mixed feelings about this. As a member of the presumed target demographic, I’m personally offended more than entertained, in the same way I was offended by the film Forrest Gump.
(I know, right? How could anyone be offended by a box of chocolates? But I felt as if my own personal memories were being pillaged and plagiarized in a cheesy attempt at emotional blackmail. But, never mind, I’m sure that’s just me.)
But a quick Google this morning reveals I’m not the only one taken aback by this PSA campaign.
“I was gobsmacked. I thought it must be a joke,” writes Jeanne Sather in her Assertive Cancer Patient blog. “What were those folks at CBS thinking? … Maybe if the winner is diagnosed with colon cancer, CBS will offer them their own reality show?”
Dr. Wes, a cardiologist writing for the Trusted MD Network, raises some serious questions about this contest:
- People under 50 shouldn’t be screened for colon cancer, so why are 40-49 year-olds encouraged to enter the contest?
- What in the world are they promoting, a free ‘high’ or colon cancer screening?
- Is this how we discuss screening tests now?
- Where are the risks of colonoscopy and sedation discussed?
- How will the list of people who register for the ‘free’ colonoscopy that don't win be used?
- Finally, if cancer is found on the screening and the patient is uninsured, who will assume responsibility for ongoing treatment of the patient?
But the colonoscopy contest also has its supporters, among them Susan Dowd Stone writing for EmpowHer Women’s Health Online.
Stone admires the “combination of humor, information and encouragement which characterizes this engaging and life-saving campaign.”
“From the intro that will leave you smiling, to the great interview with expert Dr. Paul Miskovitz, to the actual contest you can enter for a totally free colonoscopy – CBS Cares has presented a compelling case for attention and action to this crucial health issue,” she says.
… Plus a “Bottom Line” Poetry Contest
If you do happen to like mixing humor with medical procedures, you’ll probably want to enter the Colonoscopy Poetry Contest, too!
A group of South Florida physicians known as the Digestive CARE(TM) Gastroenterologists is sponsoring the 'Bottom Line Poetry Contest' for National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month (which is March 2009, if you didn’t know).
"By launching this Bottom Line Poetry Contest, we hope to bring more attention to the life-saving value of regular colonoscopies as part of a person's ongoing professional medical care," says Kenneth Rosenthal, M.D., the Boca Raton-based gastroenterologist who chairs Digestive Care's PR Committee.
"The original new poems can be heartfelt or humorous," adds Dr. Rosenthal. "We hope Digestive CARE's Bottom Line Poetry Contest will help publicize the deadly serious message of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month - and that's the real bottom line."
You can win a $500 prize for writing the best new original poem about colonoscopies; deadline for submission is April 30, 2009, the last day of National Poetry Month.
Last but not least, my Google-based wanderings turned up this Photoshop artist’s creation: a poster for a mythical movie dubbed The Never-Ending Colonoscopy.
“This time they’ve gone too far.”
“Quite possibly the crappiest movie ever made.”
Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Sandia Park, NM