Colon and colorectal cancers are the third most common cancer diagnosis in the United States, attacking thousands of men and women every single year. One of those is Katherine 'Kitty' Kocevar. Like most women her age, Kitty takes pride in being self-sufficient.
"I am very independent and I don't like people waiting on me I'd prefer to be waiting on them!" Said Kocevar.
But when a colonoscopy revealed she had colorectal cancer, this Pennsylvanian made a temporary change of address.
"I had to tell them that my son is coming in and I'm going to Sioux Falls, South Dakota!" Said Kocevar.
The move keeps her closer to family while she and oncologist Dr. Ben Solomon work to beat the cancer.
"Colon cancer is quite treatable in early stages and even later stage colon cancer has good treatment options certainly the survival rates for colon cancer are much improved if the detected early." Said Dr. Solomon.
Colorectal cancer is tricky in that it requires regular colonoscopies to catch in an early stage.
Most people won't line up for their procedure but colonoscopies offer patients more than a diagnosis.
"We both have the ability to detect the cancer early and polyps can also be removed during a colonoscopy so in a way that's therapeutic and may prevent a polyp that could later acquire cancerous potential from growing." Said Dr. Solomon.
With Kitty, those polyps had already progressed to a later stage cancer and spread to a spot on her liver.
"So they are juicing me up with radiation and chemo but I'm lucky in a way too because I haven't had one ounce of pain! Not one! And it's remarkable!" Said Kocevar.
"She has completed chemotherapy and then chemotherapy along with radiation so now it's kind of been a recovery period while she's waiting for surgery." Said Dr. Solomon.
Kitty's surgery is scheduled for April and will remove a portion of her colon and rectum as well as the spot on her liver. While her body is responding well, Kitty still has a ways to go on her journey but she's far from alone.
"I have wonderful doctors, wonderful. And I said it was worth all the tea in China to come out here for my treatment! In fact everyone here has been just absolutely wonderful." Said Kocevar.
All hospitals want to prevent infections from spreading, except when it comes to attitude. And Kitty's positivity just flows throughout the wing.
"Sometimes we have up and down days too so it's really refreshing sometimes when you see a patient like Kitty who has this zeal for life that you can kind of feed off of." Said Dr. Solomon.
"And I know I'm going to survive, I am a survivor! It's all in the attitude!" Said Kocevar.
Doctors recommend you get a colonoscopy every ten years starting when you turn fifty unless you have a prior family history. To learn more about colon cancer and prevention, there is a To-Be-Well seminar on Thursday, March 20 from 6-7PM at the Avera Living Well Center on Minnesota Avenue. For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.