Jay Overy was surprised to learn he had colorectal cancer after undergoing a routine colonoscopy in 2017.
The Bay Village, OH, retail associate was told that because the cancer was in stage 2, there was a high chance for successful treatment.
“Early detection is critical,” said Overy, a 31-year USPS employee. “I put off my colonoscopy for two years.”
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Overy considers himself lucky.
Following a year of treatment that included six surgeries, he learned in 2018 that he was cancer free.
Overy soon became a volunteer ambassador for Fight Colorectal Cancer, an organization that pushes for advocacy and research. In his free time, he helps spread awareness.
“Everyone knows what the pink ribbon is, but not a lot of people know about the blue ribbon,” he said. “We are trying to change policies so that everyone, regardless of insurance, can be screened.”
Overy’s efforts led to him being recognized during halftime at a recent Cleveland Cavaliers basketball game, and being invited to play at the Cologuard Classic, a professional golf tournament.
He and other survivors also rang the closing bell at the Nasdaq stock exchange last month.
Additionally, Overy’s photo is included in a Times Square billboard display in honor of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, which is observed in March.
Colleagues like Dan Demarino, a fellow Bay Village retail associate, aren’t surprised by the attention Overy has received.
“He spreads the word really well,” Demarino said. “Almost everyone we’ve worked with has gotten screened because of Jay putting the word out.”
Overy hopes his story inspires others to take action.
“Know your body,” he said. “Be aware of colorectal cancer symptoms and get tested. Colonoscopies are way easier than colon cancer.”