Guest blog by La Donya Reed
Right after my birthday, I got a letter in the mail.
It said I—and all African Americans—should begin screening tests for colorectal cancer at age 45. It said screening and early detection is key to surviving a potential diagnosis.
Well, I felt pretty invincible back then, so I promptly tossed the notice into the trash. But then I got another notice, and then my doctor emailed me about getting screened.
At this point, I knew nothing about colorectal cancer. Maybe it was that three strikes thing—maybe fate, or maybe the universe—but I decided to take the test.
My doctor’s email took a motherly tone. She stressed my increased risk of colorectal cancer due to my ancestry and told me that taking a FIT test—an at-home screening that checks for blood in stool—was easy. And it was!
To my surprise, the test came back positive, which meant I needed a follow-up colonoscopy.
Now what I’m about to tell you will be different from a lot of the stories you probably hear about.
I was diagnosed with stage-I colon cancer. Due to my cancer’s localized nature, it was relatively simple to treat. Had I ignored my doctor’s plea and waited to get screened, I could have been facing full-blown metastatic disease in just a few years, which is much harder to overcome.
Too often we hear about late-stage diagnoses, incredible suffering, and death. Honestly, with my stage-I diagnosis, I’ve been hesitant about sharing my story. I’ve felt like my situation wasn’t big or bad enough to share with others. But, after talking with people at the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, I realized something important:
My story is the best-case scenario. It’s the story we want all Americans who are diagnosed to have. It’s why the Alliance encourages everyone to follow the recommended screening guidelines and care for their bodies as if we’re not invincible. [TWEET THIS]
This March, I want everyone to know that screening can’t wait. It probably saved my life, and I know screening could save so many more. Learn about screening at getscreened.org.
- La Donya Reed
Get involved with National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Click here to find out how.