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Wellness fair is just in time for spring

Last week, some of the most beautiful weather of the season drew me out to garden centers and into my yard.

I pulled or dug up weeds, sprinkled a product that is supposed to slow their return, and topped that off with fertilizer and a good helping of compost and mulch.

I worked until I ran out of mulch or until the sun had evaporated what little energy I had left.

It was exhilarating. I had dirt buried so deeply under my fingernails, I had to scrub for 20 minutes. (Gloves are for sissies.)

Two days later, I thought the backs of my legs had been trampled by elephants. Where did all the pain come from?

It was a rhetorical question.

My leisure time has not included anything that involved my leaving a recliner since temperatures dipped below 40 degrees as a daytime high.

My aerobics teacher, Mark Johnson, sent messages to me through my daughter when I failed to respond to his e-mails urging me to come back to the gym.

Last week reminded me why I should have listened.

Ignoring the pain, I returned to the yard every day and even took a morning to work in the gardens at my church.

By the end of the week, I had more energy, I was less drowsy, and I could stay awake past 10 p.m.

"I told you so," said Johnson, health equity team leader for the Lexington- Fayette County Health Department. We were talking over the phone, so I couldn't get my fingers around his neck.

Johnson also was telling me about a Health and Wellness Fair and Neighborhood Walk that will be at William Wells Brown Community Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Johnson said walking the block around the center four times equals two miles, and he wanted me to join others who will be doing just that. There will be about 30 exhibitors at the fair offering plenty of information to keep us healthy or to get us that way. Johnson was especially excited when he discussed the free screenings that will be available for high blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and dental disease, which can be indicators of other serious illnesses, such as heart disease.

There also will be free screenings for HIV, which continues to devastate minority populations, and syphilis, which is making a comeback in all communities.

But the surprise that he could barely hold back on was the Kentucky Educational Colon East, a giant inflatable replica of a colon that will be on display in the gym. The inflatable colon is owned by the Pike County Health Department.

It is an 8-foot by 20-foot inflatable replica of a colon. It shows what normal tissue, polyps and diseased, cancerous tissue look like. "You'll be able to walk through it and be informed," Johnson said.

It also highlights how the lymphatic system is one way that metastatic cancer is spread to other organs. Johnson said the display will drive home the importance of colorectal cancer prevention, and risks, symptoms and screening options.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cancer killer in the United States for men and women combined. If detected early, the disease has a 90 percent survival rate.

"We don't have enough money to offer colorectal screenings," Johnson said, "so this is a way to heighten awareness."

The inflatable colon is definitely a conversation starter.

The Health and Wellness Fair, which is free, is sponsored by the Lexington Division of Parks and Recreation, Central Baptist Hospital, Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates and the health department.

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