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Survivor Stories

Colonoscopy Finds More Than Colon Cancer, Saves Patient’s Life

"It's time."

That's how Roger's doctor broke the news to him that as a 50-year-old, he should make an appointment for his first colonoscopy. Given how the screening is conducted, it's not a milestone anyone looks forward to, but, with his wife's encouragement, Roger decided it was probably the right thing to do.

"It's not the most fun experience of your life," he recalled, but he took it seriously and even fasted a full six hours before he technically needed to start in order to make sure it would go well. And it did go well for the most part.

The inner portion of Roger’s colon was as clean as could be. But it was what they found outside that raised some concern.

"The doctor said he saw a carcinoid tumor on my appendix during the exam and that the best thing to do was simply take out my appendix. Given the fact that you don’t really need your appendix anyway, that made sense to me."

The 45-minute surgery would have been simple enough, but when the surgeon went in to remove Roger's appendix, he found a whole lot more carcinoid tumors - these on the outside of Roger's colon, away from the colonoscope's prying eye. Two and a half hours and one-third of his colon lighter, Roger came out of surgery a cancer survivor.

"We had no idea before the surgery," Roger recalled. "They came out and told my wife it was going to take a little longer than expected, but we had no idea. There were no signs of colon cancer from my colonoscopy, but finding that tumor on my appendix probably saved my life. My doctor said if I'd gone another six months without the exam, I could have been in big trouble."

The experience has certainly changed his perspective on health screenings. In fact, Roger is working with his pastor on planning an event for his church community to encourage others to get screened as well.

"One day of discomfort has given me 50 more years of life," he said. "I want everyone to know that, and maybe they'll be as lucky as me."