Pana Woman Shares Colon Cancer Survival Story
March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer among men and women in the U.S. According to the American Cancer Society, it is expected to cause more than 49,000 deaths this year alone.
In this week's Health Matters, Maggie Poteau shares the story of one woman's miraculous journey.
"It was pretty much the worst year I've had health wise," said Sally Cole.
Sally has always considered herself healthy. She took pride in being the vibrant matriarch of her family. But in January 2015, Sally was rushed to the hospital, diagnosed with double pneumonia and type A influenza.
"For five weeks I was on respiratory care," said Cole. "And when I came out of that I had a temperature; I ran it for about a month."
Sally had an unrelenting fever which led to another ER visit, then to a colorectal specialist.
"Then [the doctor] sent me to Dr. Poola because he felt a lump in my stomach," said Cole.
Sally had a colonoscopy which revealed a very unexpected diagnosis - stage three colon cancer.
"Well I said 'let's get rid of it.' It didn't scare me. I didn't dream I had anything wrong with me; I had no symptoms," said Cole.
Assistant Professor, Colorectal Surgery, SIU School of Medicine General Surgery, Dr. Prasad Poola performed laser surgery to remove the growth. They removed a grapefruit sized malignant tumor and half of her colon.
"They removed it, and it was cancerous, and I still had some in my glands," said Cole. Then, after 12-weeks of chemotherapy, "they say I am cancer free. The last colonoscopy says I am cancer free."
It was a miracle not only for Sally, but for her family that loves her.
"One doctor I had said, 'You were that close to dying.' I said yes, and he said well I'm still here, he said, 'This close, do you understand?' I said, 'Well God must need me for something,'" said Cole
Sally Cole will tell you she is not one to get in front of a camera, but she did so because she thought that is why God spared her life. She wanted to share her story with others to encourage them to get a regularly scheduled colonoscopy.
Dr. Poola says everyone, men and women, should get a routine colonoscopy at the age of 50.
Certain groups of people are at higher risk for colon cancer; those with first degree relatives such as your mother, grandmother or siblings, with a history of colon cancer, or those who have been treated for colon cancer.