Colon Cancer: A Patient's Story
Trish Simon, who received her colon cancer diagnosis after giving birth at age 32, did not fit the textbook profile of a colorectal cancer patient because of her age and lack of family history of the illness.
In her case, cramps gave way to severe pain and then to a full hysterectomy after scans revealed masses on her ovaries. Further scans and tests eventually revealed that an aggressive tumor in her GI tract had metastasized from her colon to her ovaries.
Early detection through a colonoscopy could have spared Simon the stage four colon cancer diagnosis that has been a part of her life for the past six years. Today, she is an advocate for early colon cancer screenings, who has convinced fellow nurses and doctors within the Alexian Brothers Health System to donate time and equipment to screen high-risk patients.
Simon's story almost mirrors that of former Today Show host Katie Couric who launched a campaign to encourage early screenings after her husband’s passing from colon cancer in 1998. Couric underwent a nationally televised colonoscopy in March 2000. Since then, there has been a 20% increase in the number of colonoscopies performed, and we now know these facts about the procedure and colon cancer:
- Patients are sedated throughout the process, putting to rest some fears that the procedure is painful.
- Men and women are equally affected by colon cancer.
- Risk of colon cancer increases with age.
- Screenings should begin at age 50, unless there is a family history of colon cancer.
- A balanced, high-fiber diet, consistent exercise and overall healthy lifestyle reduce risks.
In spite of greater awareness, the Centers for Disease Control reported that colorectal cancer cases are often detected at late stage when treatment is less effective.
Read more on Trish's story here.