Don’t Postpone That Colonoscopy

May 22, 2017 12:01 pm Published by

Jeri Gay of IrvingtonWhen she turned 50, Jeri Gay of Irvington knew she should follow recommended guidelines and have a colonoscopy to screen for early signs of colorectal cancer. But life, as they say, kept getting in the way of her good intentions and it was easy to keep putting it off. The years slipped by.

But then, when Jeri turned 65, she began experiencing symptoms typical of colorectal cancer – unexplained bleeding and pain severe enough that it woke her during the night. So she went to the doctor and finally had that colonoscopy. “Afterward, the doctor came in and said you have polyps, diverticulitis – and rectal cancer,” Jeri recalled.

Aggressive treatment at the Providence Hospital Cancer Center began immediately. First, she had 28 radiation treatments and oral chemotherapy to shrink the tumor. Then she underwent a six-hour surgery during which the tumor, her rectum, 13 lymph nodes, scar tissue and some of her intestine were removed. She was in the hospital for nine days. Once she recovered from the surgery, she underwent six chemotherapy infusions.

Jeri completed her treatment in June, 2016 and her latest scans were “clean.” Doctors will continue to monitor her closely and she will always have an ostomy bag, due to the extensive nature of the surgery. She knows that earlier screening probably would have identified the precancerous polyps and prevented the occurrence of the cancer. Still, her attitude is one of acceptance and optimism. “God and the good people around me carried me through all this,” she declared. “I never felt sorry for myself, but I had that feeling all along that it was going to be okay.”