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Speedy Recovery from Colon Cancer: September 21, 2011

“One morning I was out running and something just said go ahead and get it.”

Vera Owens does everything fast. Always on the go, she had to squeeze in her colonoscopy, a decision that may have saved her life.

“I had my tests taken and everything, sure enough, it was cancer; a tumor.”

Vera had no personal track record of the disease, but her family history of colon cancer put her at risk and prompted her to take action.

Vera’s mother died of colon cancer at age 73. Since then, she’s been diligent about getting tested. This time her gastroenterologist had bad news.

“He pat me on my shoulder he says don’t worry it’s going to be fine I think we’re going to get it in time. That one word coming from him made me feel like I’m going to fight this bad boy,” says Vera.

“If we do find a cancer there are four stages, so the first couple of stages are 100% curable, so it is important early detection is really important,” says Dr. Nick Sharma, a gastroenterologist on the medical staff with Lee Memorial Health System.

Colonoscopy is the first step in preventing cancers. The procedure uses a thin scope with a camera and cutting tools which examine the colon and remove any pre-cancerous polyps. Vera was already stage one, and required surgery which was done laparoscopically.

“When we take out cancers or colon cancers laparoscopically, there is usually a faster recovery. People go back to their activities a lot sooner because there’s less pain, there’s a smaller incision, there’s less blood loss,” says Dr. Janette Gaw, a colorectal surgeon with Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

Vera had a speedy recovery. Three months later, she ran a half marathon.

“I came first in my age group.”

Showing the same perseverance and quickness that helped her beat cancer.