Thursday, February 20, 2014

Day 284 - The Strollin' Colon

I have never been to the Strollin’ Colon. While visiting this massive, traveling inflatable colon intended to help people learn more about colon health wouldn’t normally be on my list of things to experience, the passing opportunity to experience the event during my “I have never...” year was simply too good to pass up. After all, it is not often a person can say they have been inside a towering, colon-shaped tunnel, and I knew the experience would help me learn a lot about colon cancer and its impacts on healthcare in our world. As a result, I set aside time to visit the Strollin’ Colon on its trip through Madison this evening and convinced Rachael and our friend, Megan, to join me for an experience unlike any other I have encountered in my “I have never...” journey to date.

What's waiting inside?

This evening Megan, Rachael, and I met up to make the short trip to the nearby Hilldale Mall and make good on our plans to experience the Strollin’ Colon. When we arrived at the mall’s main entrance, a towering pink mass could be seen in the corridor just on the other side of the windows, which made it obvious we wouldn’t have to look hard for our destination. Passing through the mall’s front doors we were immediately greeted by a billowing semi-circle of inflated plastic adorned with graphics and features intended to make it look like a cross-section of an oversized colon. The initial sight of the display caused me to chuckle a bit, but its dominating presence in the space made it impossible not to be drawn in.

The colon health information desk...

The Strollin' Colon!

After a brief pause before the Strollin’ Colon, the three of us walked toward the fixture and immediately began to notice the finer, incredibly informative features of the display. At first, we took notice of a large infographic at the entrance to the tunnel, which laid out some staggering statistics on colon cancer and colon cancer screening. Looking over the information, I was taken aback by the lethality of the disease and the effectiveness of the cancer screening techniques that save thousands of lives each year. Although the bulk of the display gave off a fun, almost inviting appearance, the message provided by the sign made the otherwise uncomfortable topic of colon cancer screening accessible. It provided critical information about the importance taking preventative colon cancer measures to ensure health and well-being, and it provided people like me who were oblivious to the effects of colon cancer a first look at the importance of taking it seriously.


Staggered by the information at the exterior of the Strollin’ Colon, I slowly worked my way into the tunnel where Megan and Rachael were already looking at the features on the display’s interior. Around us, different graphics and abnormalities in the surface of the tunnel provided depictions of colon cancer’s various stages, which ranged from small polyps to scattered, expansive swaths of cancer. In the context of the information we had seen moments earlier, the uneven, discolored surfaces permitted me to visualize the ravaging effects of the disease. Despite the fact I was looking at colored swaths of vinyl inflated with air, the display was oddly effective.

Chop that polyp! Chop it!

Preventably gross.

At the end of the stroll

After completing our walk through the Strollin’ Colon, Megan, Rachael, and I took some time to look over some information available on colon health and organizations sponsoring the event before deciding we would bring the experience to a close. As we began walking away from the display to tend to some other errands in the mall, we chatted briefly about our takeaways from the quirky event. Although we agreed the experience was certainly out of the ordinary, our remarks made it obvious we all took a little bit of insight away from our time at the Strollin’ Colon. To me, that was enough to know that making tonight’s experience a part of my “I have never...” year. I learned something and I can now say I have been inside a massive inflatable replica of a colon. I’m sure that will be enough to kick start a story or two in the future.

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