There Is A Giant Inflatable Colon at Dufferin Mall
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There Is A Giant Inflatable Colon at Dufferin Mall

This is not a post about punctuation.

The pictures accompanying this post were taken yesterday at the press conference preceding the ribbon-cutting at Dufferin Mall’s latest attraction: a giant inflatable replica of a human colon, with giant inflatable polyps inside, that people can walk through to learn about the dangers of colorectal cancer, and how to prevent it―until Saturday, when it gets packed up for its next appearance, in Peterborough.
Yes, there was a press conference. The Star and CBC were there, and so was Eye Weekly. The Giant Colon is big news. It’s located right at the entrance to Walmart. It is magnificent in every way.
We spoke with some representatives from Cancer Care Ontario, who were manning a table full of pamphlets next to the Colon. They informed us that colorectal cancer is completely curable ninety percent of the time, as long as it’s detected early, either with a Fecal Occult Blood Test (which is apparently not as sinister as it sounds), or with a colonoscopy (which is when they do to you what plumbers do to pipes that are too clogged to plunge). These tests are recommended for everyone fifty and older, male or female, and they should be administered every two years.
After our colorectal catechism, one of the pamphleteers asked us if we’d been inside the Colon yet. We hadn’t. “Oh,” he said, “then you haven’t lived.”
The inside of the Giant Colon smells like kettle corn and burning rubber. Polyps hang off its sides like toadstools, while colon cancer itself looks like a giant dollop of strawberry jelly. All throughout the Colon, there are video screens, upon which a puppet dressed up as a doctor talks about the cancer-fighting benefits of exercise, and dietary fiber.
“We were a screening backwater prior to the launch of this province-wide program,” said Linda Rabencheck, regional vice president of Cancer Care Ontario, during the press conference. She was talking about ColonCancerCheck, the colorectal cancer screening initiative of which the Giant Colon’s Ontario tour is a part. Afterward, we turned to an older man sitting next to us, who we’d assumed was just an ordinary Colon fan, but it turned out he was a survivor; he discovered his colon cancer one day when he started coughing blood.
If nothing else, the whole event was a demonstration of just how hard it must be for health professionals to raise awareness about preventable illness. Imagine the frustration from which the Giant Colon must have been born. There’s this simple test that could eliminate ninety percent of deaths from this nasty disease, but your medical degree isn’t enough to convince people to believe you when say so, so you build a Giant Colon and invite all sorts of media, and put it in front of Walmart, where the skeptics can’t miss it, unless they shop at No Frills. It’s genius, in a way.
Photos by Christopher Drost/Torontoist.

CORRECTION: MARCH 5, 2010 This article originally noted that the colon will be at Dufferin Mall until next Thursday; in fact, its short stay ends this Saturday.