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Debbie’s story

March 15, 2022

By Debbie Rediger

I routinely hit the gym and have always had a healthy diet so when I started experiencing slight rectal bleeding, the last thing on my mind was colon cancer. Besides, I was only 53 years old and had no history of cancer in my family.

I came to the conclusion, with a little help from Google, that I had hemorrhoids.

Over several months in 2019, the bleeding became worse, but I did not have any other colon cancer symptoms. No bloating, no pain, no unusual bowel movements. I debated whether or not I should get a colonoscopy. Just the thought of going through the unpleasant preparation necessary before a colonoscopy prevented me from calling a doctor.

Then, in late 2019, my uncle was diagnosed with colon cancer and I started to freak out a bit. I decided it was time to see a gastroenterologist.

On Christmas Eve of 2020, I left my home in Lake Zurich and had my first colonoscopy. The doctor found a polyp that was too large to be removed right then. I was referred to Willis Parsons, M.D., a gastroenterologist with Northwest Community Healthcare. He was able to remove the polyp. The pathology of the polyp showed cancer so surgical consultation was recommended.

Scott Pinchot, M.D., a colorectal surgeon with Northwest Community Healthcare, who had to remove part of my colon, told me I had Stage 3 cancer and one lymph node was involved. That was my nightmare.

My husband, children and friends were very supportive and got me through some very difficult times.

I just went for my CT scan in December and they did not see any cancer, and I had a colonoscopy in January and everything looked fine. I pray every day that it stays fine and doesn’t come back with a vengeance.

If I could save one person from going through what I went through, I would be so grateful. Even if you think you have hemorrhoids, get it checked out. Tell your doctors, even if you don’t have a family history of cancer.