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Eric Davis, Baseball Star, Leads New Colon Cancer Awareness Campaign

Eric Davis, Baseball Star, Leads New Colon Cancer Awareness Campaign

WASHINGTON—Baseball star and colon cancer survivor Eric Davis has launched “Score Against Colon Cancer,” a public awareness and screening campaign that will capitalize on the St. Louis Cardinals slugger’s celebrity status and personal experience.

The “Score” campaign is an educational effort of the Eric Davis Foundation, Bristol-Myers Squibb Oncology, the American College of Gastroenterology, Cancer Care, Inc., and the Lexon Group, which is developing a blood serum test for colon cancer that uses the TGFB4 (ebaf) protein marker.

Mr. Davis leads the campaign, which includes a 60-second TV public service ad in which he describes his reaction to being diagnosed with colon cancer and urges men age 50 and over and those under age 50 with a family history of cancer to get screened. He will also make 21 appearances at hospitals and cancer centers in 17 major league cities during the course of the 1999 baseball season to publicize the need for screening.

The campaign offers educational information through its toll-free number (1-877-SCORE-123) and its website (www.scorecrc.com). Individuals can ask to receive colon cancer educational material or to speak directly to a certified oncology counselor.

“Score Against Colon Cancer is something I truly believe in,” Mr. Davis said at a press conference to announce the campaign. “I’ve lived it. I know. I’m here to tell you that colon cancer can be beaten.”

Mr. Davis came out of retirement in 1997 at age 35 to play with the Baltimore Orioles. He soon developed abdominal pain, fatigue, and weight loss, all of which he initially attributed to “the grueling aspects of being a professional athlete,” he said. But on June 9, he entered Johns Hopkins University Hospital, where he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Surgeons removed a tumor “the size of a baseball,” he said. He returned to the Orioles roster in 1998, and in the final month of the season batted around .400. He signed with St. Louis in the off-season.

Ironically, Mr. Davis was soon given the opportunity to urge his childhood friend and fellow ballplayer, Darryl Strawberry, to have suspicious symptoms examined. Mr. Strawberry was also diagnosed with colorectal cancer, which was treated with surgery and chemotherapy.

During his chemotherapy treatments at Johns Hopkins, Mr. Davis said he visited with cancer patients, including those terminally ill. It was then that he decided to set up a foundation to raise money for colon cancer and pediatric cancer. “The important thing, I felt, was to create an awareness campaign,” he said.

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