March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, so it should come as no surprise that spreading awareness for the third most common cancer in both men and woman in the United States is a must!
Kate Wagner, a local woman battled with the disease.
“I’m better. I’m better. Good,” said Wagner.
Doctor appointments have become much easier for Kate Wagner now that she lives her life feeling better with no worries to report. But more than a year ago, that wasn't the case.
“I was going weeks without eating and I could not use the bathroom. Then eventually I was literally vomiting feces. Then I kind of figured it’s time to go to the doctors.”
Unfortunately, the doctors that she went to didn't give her the answer to her problem or pinpoint exactly what was wrong.
“I went to the doctor and they said 'oh you’ll be fine, it might be an Ulcer,' and I knew it wasn’t that”
Wagner had her symptoms for a year, and they only got worse. That was until she went for a second opinion at MedStar Franklin Square.
Dr. Abhinav Sankineni listened to her symptoms and decided to perform a colonoscopy. What he found was surprising.
“To my surprise actually, when I was doing the colonoscopy, I looked at it and I was surprised to find a mass. Which was most likely a cancer.”
Something Wagner did not expect to hear.
“Definitely was surprised. Wasn’t something we thought it would be at all. We thought for nothing, if it was something, it was going to be something treatable that wasn’t something necessarily a risk of taking my life.”
Wagner thought about her life and her family. She knew the battle with colon cancer she was now going to have to face was going to be difficult.
“It was hard to deal with the situation the whole way around. And then I had 3 children so it was a little hard to be able to explain to my children what was going on and see their faces and worry.”
But thanks to the team of medical professionals at MedStar Hospital, Wagner's cancer was treatable with surgery.
Last April, Wagner went through a double mastectomy, and now she's cancer-free.
“The good thing about working in a big organization like this is I was able to help Kate with the medical oncologist, surgical oncologist, gynecologist and the genetic counselor and the whole team helped her,” said Sankineni.
With the past behind her, Wagner is looking forward to more days ahead. She's taking her vitamins and following up with Dr. Sankineni for a yearly colonoscopy.
More than anything, she's feeling good.
“I feel phenomenal. I don’t feel like I’ve been through anything,” said Wagner.
Screening is the number one way to reduce the risk for this cancer. If you're experiencing abdominal pain, change in bowel habits, bloody stool or even weight loss, these are all red flags and you should get checked out. Early detection of symptoms is key so doctors can treat it.