Colon Cancer Awareness: A Few Hours of Your Life Might Just Save It

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They probably could have caught this much earlier if I had gone in when I was supposed to get my colonoscopy.”
Windell Turner, Colon Cancer Survivor

CULLMAN – There are many different kinds of cancer that medicine has no way to catch early with tests, but the second leading cause of cancer-related death does. March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and one of Cullman’s own residents, Windell Turner, has a message for everyone.

Turner, who is now in remission from colon cancer, spoke of his journey about hearing the news that no one ever wants to receive.

“I had several issues going on,” Turner said. “It all started out with us thinking it was my gallbladder. I was in a lot of pain and was nauseated all the time. So I had surgery to have it removed, and felt great after, but a week or so later I was back to having the same symptoms. My doctor then decided I needed to have a colonoscopy done.”

According to Turner, when the doctor asked how long it had been since the 52-year-old male had undergone the procedure, he reported that it had been several years.

“So I went and had my colonoscopy done with Dr. Cunningham, and a week later I got a call to come in because they needed to talk to me,” he said.

“When I got there he asked me about my mother, who had died of colon cancer, and he told me, ‘Well, unfortunately, you have it too.’”

Upon hearing the news, Turner knew two things about the situation: first that there was nothing he could do but move on and fight; second that his cancer may have been avoided had he gone for regular testing.

“I knew it was my own stupidity,” Turner said. “They probably could have caught this much earlier if I had gone in when I was supposed to get my colonoscopy. I could have probably avoided chemotherapy and surgery.”

Turner, however, is not alone in making that mistake. Many people put off or avoid having a regular colonoscopy done all together.

There are different excuses that people tell themselves to keep from going through with it, but Turner says that others should take a lesson from his experience and his mother’s story, that this disease can hit anyone and it’s surely worth the small time out of your life to get tests done.

“The testing is nothing compared to going through chemotherapy,” said Turner. “You go off to lala land for a bit for a colonoscopy and then you wake up and it’s over. There’s nothing really to it. It is just a few hours out of your life, or possibly the end of your life.”

By the time Turner did have his colonoscopy done, he was already between stages two and three.

He endured 12 rounds of chemo over 24 weeks, and surgery, and is still living with the side effects of treatment.

“I have no feeling in the ends of my fingers thanks to chemo,” Turner said.

“My feet feel like I walk on glass all the time. For me, I also can’t drink anything cold. Hot drinks don’t bother me, but cold drinks feel like a million needles in my mouth. And I just want people to learn that this could have probably been avoided if I had just gotten that test done when I was supposed to.”

 

Currently there are more than 1 million colon cancer survivors because of testing, and it is also the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S.

Ninety percent of those with colon cancer are over the age of 50.

Those who have a parent, sibling or offspring with colon cancer are two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with the disease as well.

For more information on the latest research, statistics and general info, go to CCAlliance.org.