Gastroenterologists at Avera McKennan wish we got as excited about colorectal cancer awareness month as we do breast cancer awareness. Especially since 1 in 17 men and women will get colon cancer during their lifetime. It's the 3rd most common cancer, but the 2nd deadliest cancer. Nancy Naeve Brown met a Winner woman and her team of doctors who caught her cancer just in time.
We joined 54 year old Kris Brockhoft for her first visit back to the Avera Cancer Institute in Sioux Falls in March after finding out in late December 2010 she had early stage colon cancer. It was discovered by Avera Gastroenterologist Dr. Cristina Hill Jensen during Kris's first routine colonoscopy.
Dr. Hill Jensen says, "By screening we can find polyps and remove them and we prevent cancer from starting or spreading to other areas of the body. If we find the lesion early it can save a life or even improve your quality of life."
Kris's polyp was too big to remove endoscopically during the colonoscopy so surgeon Dr. Scott Baker was brought in to do a colon resection.
Dr. Baker with South Dakota Surgical Institute says, "The prognosis is very good. She had a very early cancer so surgery was the only treatment she needed. No chemo or radiation."
Dr. Baker laparoscopically removed about a foot of Kris's large intestine and reconnected it. It's about the size of my shoe which seems like a lot but it really isn't.
Dr. Baker says, "We could lose the entire colon. The main function of the colon is to absorb water. Everybody has approximately 5 to 6 feet."
Kris says, "Everything just clicked. From the Monday I had the colonoscopy to surgery on the following Tuesday everything just moved so quickly and I couldn't have been in better hands."
Kris says her recovery has gone so smoothly she can't believe it.
Kris says, "It's been such a good experience."
Had it not been for the repeated nudging by her husband Mike to get a colonoscopy, Kris's cancer wouldn't have been found at all and for that she is eternally grateful. She also knows she could have avoided surgery all together had she gotten her colonoscopy at the recommended age of 50, 4 years earlier. Early screening is a lesson this educator from Winner will forever teach then practice what she preaches.