Colonoscopy Patient Stories - Eileen's Story

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When Eileen Breitweiser finally underwent a colonoscopy at age 62, doctor's discovered cancer. Yet, had she waited longer to undergo the exam, the outcome could have been much different. In her words, "I feel like I dodged a bullet."


My father had colon cancer in his early eighties. My mother had brain cancer at 60 years old. And there is a history of other cancer in my family.


Even with my history, I was not staying on top of my colonoscopies. In 2001 I started getting sigmoidoscopies. They always came back clear.


In 2006 my primary care physician recommended that I get a colonoscopy. So in November 2007, I finally got my first colonoscopy. And when I woke up and they told me that the test showed cancer I was shocked. The only symptom that I had was that I was more tired. In fact, I had stage 2 colon cancer.


In mid-December I had laparoscopic surgery and they were able to get the cancer and some additional polyps. They also tested 31 lymph nodes and they were all clear. I was lucky that I did not need any radiation or chemotherapy.


If I would have waited I could have had a very different experience. I was 62 years old and clearly if I would have started with colonoscopies 10 years earlier, as prescribed, they could have removed them in the polyp stage. They told me that the cancer had been growing for at least 7 years. I feel like I dodged a bullet.


I tell my friends and relatives to get colonoscopies as prescribed. Colon cancer is slow growing so chances are that it will be found with a colonoscopy. The prep work is annoying but a small price to pay.


My daughter turns 40 this year and she is having one this year. Getting your colonoscopy is an important part of maintaining good health.