Stephanie King knew at some point she would have to have a colonoscopy. Doctors recommend the colon cancer screening for African Americans at age 45 and everyone else at age 50.
"I was nervous about going to get a colonoscopy done," Stephanie said.
But even though she was nervous, she didn't hesitate to get the procedure done at the first signs that something wasn't right.
"I started having stomach pains, and one day I just stayed in bed all day with really bad stomach pains and I couldn't eat anything, and then I started throwing up," Stephanie said.
The colonoscopy that she had been so nervous about revealed a large tumor that, if not removed right away, would have led to a difficult cancer battle.
"It would have spread to her lymph nodes and possibly to other organs, and she was literally just one stage away from needing chemotherapy," Dr. Christopher Dwyer, a colon and rectal surgeon at Medical City in Arlington, Texas, said.
Dwyer says many patients, unlike Stephanie, wait too long when they experience the first signs of symptoms. He says that's part of the reason why colon cancer rates among people between the ages of 25 and 50 are on the rise.
"It's not that we should start screening earlier. We should start listening to our bodies and getting the word out to primary care physicians as well as to the patients themselves," Dwyer said.
And because Stephanie listened to her body, she only needed surgery to free her of cancer.
"I’m so thankful and happy that I did go ahead and get the procedure done. And then, of course, I have my beautiful grand-baby Aniyah, she's eight months old," Stephanie said. "And we love her to death, and I’m just happy that I will be here to help my son and his wife continue to take care of her. I'm so, so happy and thankful."
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the United States. Doctors say, with early detection, it is beatable.