The Colossal Colon

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NBC Today Show
Katie Couric
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Video News Report
NBCUniversal Media, LLC.
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NBC's Katie Couric talks to a 26-year-old colorectal cancer survivor who presents the "colossal colon" she designed to raise awareness for colon cancer.



"The Colossal Colon." Katie Couric, correspondent. NBC Today Show. NBCUniversal Media. 20 Mar. 2002. NBC Learn. Web. 19 August 2017.


Couric, K. (Reporter). (2002, March 20). The Colossal Colon. [Television series episode]. NBC Today Show. Retrieved from


"The Colossal Colon" NBC Today Show, New York, NY: NBC Universal, 03/20/2002. Accessed Sat Aug 19 2017 from NBC Learn:


The Colossal Colon

KATIE COURIC, co-host:

March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month. And as a result, we want to focus on the second leading cancer killer in this country, colorectal cancer. We first met Molly McMaster back in November of last year. You may remember she is a 26-year-old colon cancer survivor who was selected to carry the Olympic torch. Molly was nominated by a friend she had met on the Internet, Amanda Roberts, who had been diagnosed with an advanced case of colon cancer when she was just 24 years old. At 27, Amanda passed away in January, just two days after Molly had carried the Olympic flame. Now in honor of Amanda Roberts and Colon Cancer Awareness Month, Molly McMaster is here with Amanda's cousin, Hannah Vogler, and a 40-foot-long "colossal colon," which they conceived as a way to raise awareness about colon cancer screening and prevention.

It's so nice to see you both. Thanks so much for coming in.

Ms. HANNAH VOGLER: Thank you.

Ms. MOLLY McMASTER: Thank you.

Ms. VOGLER: Thanks for having us.

COURIC: Molly, how did you come up with this idea?

Ms. McMASTER: Katie, I'm sorry, I have to blame you.


Ms. McMASTER: Back in November when Amanda and I were on the show together, I don't know if you remember, but you were in the green room with us, and you said, “If you come up with something crazy for Colon Cancer Awareness Month, let us know and we'll cover it.” Wheels started turning. I said, you know, this is an opportunity that can't be missed. And I thought and thought. And one morning in the shower before work, I thought, I'm going to build a colon. And I brought it--you know, I thought of it, brought the idea to Adirondack Scenic in Argyle, New York.

COURIC: And they have done some other cool exhibits and sculptures, right?

Ms. McMASTER: They've done some other great things. From what I understand, they're involved in grossology, also, which you and I discussed a little bit--a little bit ago.

COURIC: Yeah. Grossology is that children's exhibit that's been traveling around to museums all across the country where the nose will excrete certain gross things and...

Ms. McMASTER: Right.

COURIC: ...I mean, it's--it's all about bodily functions, but part of it is sort of being more comfortable talking about these things, right?

Ms. McMASTER: Right.

Ms. VOGLER: Absolutely.

COURIC: Hannah, I know this cost $50,000 to build.

Ms. VOGLER: A little more.

COURIC: A little more.

Ms. VOGLER: Yes.

COURIC: How did you raise the money to do that?

Ms. VOGLER: Well, it was very exciting because we really had a whole group of people who came together to make this happen. Molly and I started raising money from our friends and family. We then looked to the corporate side. And we were very, very lucky that Roche Pharmaceutical decided to come on board as our very first corporate sponsor. They were interested, obviously, because they manufacture Xeloda, which is the only oral cancer--colon cancer treatment...

COURIC: Right.

Ms. VOGLER: ...available. And they were actually so excited about the project, they put us in touch with the Cancer Research Foundation of America who came on as our second sponsor.

COURIC: Which is great.

Ms. VOGLER: It's so great. And then we took all of that and gave it to the very capable Glens Falls Hospital who sort of administers the finances for us, so...

COURIC: You know, Amanda was such a darling girl...

Ms. VOGLER: Thank you.

COURIC: ...and she was so brave and so inspiring. Do you think--what do you think Amanda would think of this? Do you think she's think...

Ms. VOGLER: That she's laughing at us?

Ms. McMASTER: She...

COURIC: was a great idea?

Ms. VOGLER: Yes, she's laughing.

Ms. McMASTER: ...yes, she's laughing because Hannah and I have our arguments all the time. But we wanted Amanda to be part of it also, and her name is on it. So Amanda got her name on the colon. It says "For Amanda" around the corner.

COURIC: I know she felt very, very strongly about educating people...

Ms. VOGLER: Yeah.

Ms. McMASTER: Yes.

COURIC: ...and encouraging people to be screened for this disease, because it is so preventable. And, of course, you wanted to focus attention on younger people getting the disease.

Ms. McMASTER: Right.

COURIC: It's not just old people. It's not just men.

Ms. VOGLER: Absolutely.

COURIC: But young women can get this disease, and hopefully, they'll do more research that can help figure out who and why.

Ms. McMASTER: Right.

Ms. VOGLER: Absolutely.

Ms. McMASTER: One of the problems we seem to run across is that all the organizations are talking about 50 and older, 50 and older screening, and that wouldn't have done me any good. That kind of makes me expendable and that upsets me.

COURIC: I know.

Ms. McMASTER: So I go around and I want to teach people, you need to know--you need to know your body because only you know it. You need to know the symptoms and you need to know what they mean...

COURIC: And you need to talk...

Ms. McMASTER: ...and to see a doctor.

COURIC: ...with your doctor if you're concerned at all.

Ms. VOGLER: Yes. Yes.

Ms. McMASTER: Yes, and be persistent.

COURIC: Because I know what you're saying about younger people because my husband...

Ms. McMASTER: Right.

COURIC: ...was just 41 years old.

Ms. VOGLER: Yes. Yes.

COURIC: And, of course, he was below the minimum age for the screening guidelines.

Ms. VOGLER: Right.

COURIC: Real quickly, you're going to show me around.

Ms. VOGLER: Yes. Yes, I'm going to show you a couple of things.

COURIC: OK, just--because, you know it looks like a plain colon from the outside, but inside there's some pretty gnarly looking stuff.

Ms. VOGLER: Some pretty gross stuff.

COURIC: So why don't you show us real quick, Hannah, what you have inside.

Ms. VOGLER: OK, when we go through here, and we aren't...

COURIC: Good luck.

Ms. VOLGER: Thank you. I hope I come out. We do have in here lots of examples of different things. But I want to show you today, we have several different examples of polyps in here. Polyps are the sort of things that grow into colon cancer. And we have a couple of different kinds of polyps. We have these very gross-looking ones here and here.

COURIC: Right.

Ms. VOLGER: These are the ones that generally grow into cancer. They are premalignant polyps. Then we have this kind of smoother looking ones that the doctors tell us may or may not turn into cancer. We're not really sure. If you saw these on a colonoscopy, the doctor would take all of these out because they all put you at risk for colon cancer.

COURIC: Right. And all through this colon, you have various examples of tumors, precancerous polyps...

Ms. VOLGER: Absolutely.

COURIC: ...and it really does educate people, even young people so they should grow up realizing they're at risk, and we should make people aware of the importance of screening...

Ms. VOLGER: Absolutely.

COURIC: ...from a very early age.

Ms. VOLGER: Absolutely. And you know what, it makes it a little fun. I mean, it's a little crazy to do this, and so hopefully it will stick in people's minds. And when they do get to that point where they need to be screened, they'll remember this.

COURIC: And it's so outrageous that it's, as you say...

Ms. McMASTER: Completely.

COURIC:'s something they won't forget.

Ms. McMASTER: That's what we went for.

COURIC: All right. Well, Molly and Hannah, thank you, guys, so much for coming by.

Ms. VOLGER: Well, thanks for having us.

COURIC: You can stick your head out our little window if you want.


COURIC: And we really appreciate you coming by and bringing the colossal colon.

Ms. VOLGER: Well, thank you for having us.

COURIC: Good luck to you, guys.

Ms. VOLGER: Thanks a lot.

Ms. McMASTER: Thank you.