Colonoscopy Provides Early Cancer Detection for Local Woman

Sarah Lacox’s family history provided a few warning signs for the registered nurse from Decatur. Her brother was diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer while her sister had a laparoscopic procedure for a hiatal hernia.

Sarah herself had a history of gastroesophageal reflux and high cholesterol. She was 49 when she decided to check with her doctor about having an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), which is a test in which your doctor uses an endoscope to examine the lining of your esophagus, stomach and duodenum.

While she was in the office for the consultation, Nathan Pyle, DO, encouraged her to have a screening colonoscopy even though she wasn’t quite yet 50. At that time, the guidelines were still 50 and up for routine colonoscopies. Today, they have been lowered to 45 and up.

“I was honestly most worried about Dr. Pyle finding an esophageal mass and was shocked when he told me I had a sigmoid colon mass consistent with colon cancer,” Sarah said. “I was in total disbelief. My biggest fear of course was chemotherapy and the possibility for a colostomy. The surgeon, Dr. Ranjodh Singh, calmed my fears and told me not to worry about chemotherapy until we got the pathology report back.”

Unfortunately, when the pathology report came back, Sarah was found with three positive lymph nodes making the colon cancer diagnosis stage 3, which required chemotherapy for the best outcome. After six months of chemotherapy and three additional PET scans, the images came back looking clear.

Sarah is grateful for the care she experienced at Decatur Memorial Hospital.

“My care was excellent from the get go,” she said. “Dr. Singh explained the procedure and possible outcomes to me. Dr. Benjamin Esparaz explained the chemotherapy process and ordered all of the testing needed prior to starting. All of the people in radiology and surgery were amazing from registration to post-op, and I had amazing nurses throughout.”

Today, Sarah is 50, and her cancer is officially in remission. She will have a repeat colonoscopy this summer that she is confident will turn out well. She looks forward to hanging out with her family, scrapbooking and just feeling good again, and she’s grateful for that day last year when Dr. Pyle suggested the colonoscopy. Since then, she’s become a passionate advocate for colorectal screening.

“I encourage everyone age 45 and up and anyone with any kind of symptoms to be screened for colon cancer,” Sarah said. “I had no symptoms whatsoever and ended up having stage 3 colon cancer requiring chemotherapy.”

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