The Colossal Colon: Crawling Through Taboo - Siouxland News - KMEG 14 and FOX 44

The Colossal Colon: Crawling Through Taboo


(SIOUX CITY, IA) You've seen inside Katie Couric's and Harry Smith's on live television. Now, Mercy is teaching digestive health in a big way - the Colossal Colon - giving students a chance to crawl their way through the taboo topic.

It's something many of us don't discuss but the larger than life model makes the conversation hard to ignore.

"I think the colon is something most people are uncomfortable talking about so they don't talk about it," says Amy Slevin, Mercy Clinical Program Development Director.

"They're afraid to increase awareness of it because of the taboo," says Allison Jaynes, WITCC nursing student.
That is exactly why Mercy Medical Center is showcasing the Colossal Colon, known as CoCo.

"Educating and demystifying the myth of the colon," says Slevin.
Crawling through CoCo, it's a lot easier to see disease when it's 12 times bigger.
"Polyps, they will see hemorrhoids, they will see diverticulitis, they will see Crohn's Disease," says Slevin.

The Colossal Colon is 40 feet long, 4 feet tall, and weighs more than a ton. And if it were to fit inside a real person, they would have to be 65 feet tall.

For Western Iowa Tech nursing students, CoCo gives a voice to the silent killer.

"With colon cancer, the biggest symptom is no symptom," says Slevin.    

"Just being able to see everything in the flesh, literally, it really puts theory with experience for me," says Jaynes.    

Here in Siouxland, the incident rate for colorectal cancer is dramatically higher than the national average of 53.1 per 100,000.

"In some of our counties, we have rates as high as 81 and 70 per 100,000," says Slevin.

Slevin says rates in Thurston County in Nebraska and Plymouth County in Iowa are among the highest.

By highlighting good health habits and colonoscopies after 50, Mercy is starting the colon conversation to help prevent the second leading cancer killer nationwide.

If you want to crawl through CoCo, it's open two days this week. It's free to the public on Friday, May 7th from 9 AM to 7 PM and Saturday, May 8th from 9 AM to 5 PM at the Sioux City Convention Center.

Reported by Erika Thomas. You can contact her at

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