Thunderbirds football raises awareness for colorectal cancer

The UBC football team is joining forces with BC Lions legend Lui Passaglia, the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation and the Jack Gin Foundation in the Get Behind Lui campaign.

Organized by the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation, the Get Behind Lui campaign aims to raise $50,000 for a pediatric colonoscope — a device for screening colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer for men and women but, as explained in an article by UBC Athletics, early detection of it can make for easy treatment.

In an effort to promote the campaign, three T-Birds — Stavros Katsantonis, Malcolm Lee and Jordan Kennedy — took photos with Passaglia that will be used in public advertisements.

“I just thought it’d be a good thing to ... help people know more about colorectal cancer and how it can be cured,” said Katsantonis. “It’s a lot easier to get it out of your body than if you catch it at a later stage.”

 As a survivor of colorectal cancer, Passaglia was grateful for the support he received from the UBC football team.

“[Those T-Birds] were trying to help out to raise money for something that will help their community and help individuals, so kudos go out to them,” said Passaglia.

Passaglia underwent treatment for stage three colon cancer after his diagnosis in 2013. He is currently cancer-free and credits the success of his treatment to the subsequent colonoscopy he had.

“The colonoscopy that I had back in 2013 helped with the diagnosis of my colon cancer,” said Passaglia. “Without [the] colonoscopy and that machine apparatus that we’re trying to raise money for, who knows where I would be at this point in time.”

He hopes that raising money for a colonoscope will provide future colon cancer patients with more efficient diagnosis and treatment.

“I felt that maybe if I could use my name to help someone else get a colonoscopy … maybe they wouldn’t have to go through the procedures I had to go through,” said Passaglia.

Katsantonis believes that he has become more aware of colorectal cancer through his role in Get Behind Lui and hopes that the campaign will make a positive impact.

“All these things [Passaglia] is doing behind this campaign to jumpstart it and getting people aware is the most important thing because the more lives you can save, the better,” said Katsantonis. “It’s helped me become more aware.”

A Vancouver native, Passaglia played as punter and kicker for the BC Lions from 1976 to 2000. To date, he holds various CFL records, including the most field goals and total points in a single season. He is a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.