By: Jen Russon
For Coral Springs resident Jennifer Cunningham, colon cancer sits like a vulture in her family tree, watching over her and her mother while they continue to seek preventive care.
Since her early 20s, Jennifer has known her risk of developing colon cancer hovers at 50 percent.
“My choice to get screened early was the difference between life and death,” she said.
Jennifer added her physician, Joseph Corallo, M.D., Medical Director of the Colorectal Center at Broward Health Coral Springs, found a cancerous polyp during the routine colonoscopy she underwent last year.
When she got that polyp removed, Jennifer also made the brave decision to get her entire colon taken out – or colectomy, including part of her large intestine.
“My mom had the same procedure many years before I did and still needs a colostomy bag. I don’t,” said Jennifer, adding, “I’m feeling pretty good right now.”
Sadly, her older sister, Elizabeth, was not as lucky. She died from colon cancer at the age of 42, in terrible pain, over a decade ago, when early screenings were not as advanced.
“Colon cancer screenings are extremely important because it’s the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women,” said Dr. Corallo.
Jennifer said her doctor-patient relationship with the medical team at Broward Health Coral Springs is one of solid trust — enough to pursue genetic testing for her two children, who never got a chance to meet their Aunt Liz.
The test results came back, bringing both good news and bad.
Jennifer’s daughter, Alyssa, does not have the genetic marker for colon cancer. However, her 10-year-old son, Justin, does, which means his first colonoscopy is scheduled soon.
“I would strongly advise people to get screened early for colon cancer,” said Jennifer.
Jennifer and her family are not the only ones who should be making these preemptive strides in colon health.
During National Colorectal Awareness Month in March, Broward Health Coral Springs urges people to get screened as colon cancer is not just genetic.
The medical team at the hospital’s top-notch colorectal center specializes in surgical and non-surgical treatment of benign and malignant colon and rectal conditions. Broward Health caregivers focus on helping people achieve comfort through accurate diagnosis, specialized treatment, and follow-up care.
As the first center of its kind in Florida to obtain Joint Commission certification, this exemplifies the hospital’s expertise in providing the highest quality of colorectal care with unmatched caring and commitment to patients.
Register for Dr. Corallo’s free virtual interactive lecture on March 25 to learn more about your own risk. Visit Broward Health Coral Spring’s Colorectal Services for more information on colorectal care.
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- Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.
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