RALEIGH – Brooks Bell, founder and CEO of the brand consulting firm that bears her name, is stepping away from her role after being diagnosed recently with colon cancer.

The privately held firm announced Thursday that Bell will become executive chairman.

Naoshi Yamauchi, the firm’s president, will serve as interim CEO.

Brooks Bell: ‘I’m 38 and I have Stage III colon cancer’

Bell, who is 38, was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer, and she is launching a campaign, 50 Colonoscopies Under 50, to help promote awareness about the disease.

The company also said that it would begin a search for a permanent CEO.

“Though the cancer is treatable with surgery and chemotherapy, the best course of action for me moving forward is to delegate the day to day operations of the company so that I can focus on my health and the areas of the business I most enjoy—thought leadership and strategy,” said Bell in the announcement. “Naoshi has been with Brooks Bell for 10 years, and has my full trust in his ability to successfully lead the company. Our clients are in good hands.”

About the new campaign, Bell added:

“Colon cancer doesn’t get the same level of attention as other cancers because of the associated stigmas, and yet the American Cancer Society recently announced that since 1994, colon cancer diagnoses in young adults is up over 50 percent. Now, one in 10 are diagnosed before the age of 50, per the Colorectal Cancer Alliance.  When people hear about my cancer diagnosis, I don’t want pity; I want action. I want them to question whether they should get a colonoscopy and be proactive about it.”

50 Colonoscopies Under 50 has a “goal of celebrating young people who have gotten screened and help challenge stigmas associated with the procedure,” the company explained.

Bell plans to launch a campaign on Saturday at the “Get Your Rear in Gear – Raleigh 5K Walk/Run” fundraiser Wake Med Soccer Park.