March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. To help save a life and prevent a scare, GMHC employee Shannon Bachtell shares her story:

My biological father died from complications of colon cancer at the age of 56. Because of this, routine colonoscopies became a part of my life at 36, a relatively young age.  

In July of 2023 I went in for my annual colonoscopy. At that time, a few polyps were removed, including some that were precancerous. The bigger issue was a few polyps that were unable to be safely removed due to their location. It was determined to let things settle down and reattempt in December. In December, I went in for my second colonoscopy and again had polyps removed, including one that was precancerous. However they were still unable to remove the polyps that were previously inaccessible. They remained where they were and were unable to be safely removed. 

At that time, given that I had several precancerous polyps removed at this point and that the polyps remained inaccessible, it was determined that the best course of action was to perform a right hemicolectomy with anastomosis. In other words, they removed my right ascending colon and reattached everything. (So no, I don’t have a colostomy). They also removed 13 lymph nodes and as an added bonus, my appendix. The results of this were “multiple precancerous polyps” but because of the aggressive treatment, everything that was causing a problem was now gone.

Prognosis? Excellent.

I will continue to have annual colonoscopies but because they removed a sizable piece of my colon, along with the lymph nodes, my chances of developing colon cancer remain low, especially with annual screenings.

Moral of the story? Get your screenings done! It’s not that bad and it could save your life. 

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