When most partners catch up at the end of the day, it’s safe to say it’s usually about work, their busy schedules, or their upcoming plans – that’s pretty standard for Kim and her husband. It just so happens that the topic of colon cancer screening comes along with her husband’s work at Exact Sciences and his familiarity with Cologuard.
It’s normal for Kim, and it’s in no way embarrassing. In fact, it’s empowering.
So when major guidelines lowered the recommended screening age of 45 the same year Kim celebrated her 45th birthday, she knew she needed to talk about it – this time with her healthcare provider. Kim felt like she caught her healthcare provider a bit off-guard by broaching subject, especially because she had just turned 45.
“If I didn’t have that background information about screening from my husband and his work with Cologuard and I wasn’t aware of the recommendations, I might not have brought it up to my provider or pushed to get screened,” she explained. “Screening wouldn’t have been top-of-mind for me. I didn’t have any family history or symptoms of colon cancer. I’m young and felt healthy.”
Kim knows none of those things are reasons to put screening off. Roughly 70% of people diagnosed with colon cancer have no family history of it.1 And many people with early-stage colon cancer have no symptoms, and are only diagnosed by getting screened.2
After talking through it together, Kim and her healthcare provider both agreed Cologuard would be an appropriate choice. Kim was actually excited to learn more about her husband’s work in a very real way. As a busy mom whose schedule is packed with with work, teaching ballet and fitness classes, and spending time with her two preteens, time for self care can be hard to come by. Having a convenient screening option like Cologuard was beneficial.
The idea of not getting screened when she did is scary for Kim to think about now. After a positive Cologuard result, a follow-up colonoscopy revealed a large precancerous polyp which was growing fast. Kim and her gastroenterologist were very surprised. Kim was put on an aggressive follow-up plan after the polyp was removed – one that required monitoring for, in her gastroenterologist’s words, the foreseeable future. For Kim, that’s nothing compared to what could have been had she not gotten screened.
“My gastroenterologist said if had I waited another year or waited until I was 50, it would definitely have been cancer.”
Kim knows she might have more screening knowledge than the average person. It’s why she spoke up about her own screening in the first place. And it’s why she’s so passionate about telling others who might not be aware that they can get screened so young. Can, and certainly should.
When the topic of colon cancer screening comes up with friends and family now, it’s Kim who is starting the conversation and sharing her journey.
“I’ve been telling everyone I can to get screened, and I think people are really open to it,” she said. “Especially because I share my story about getting screened at 45 and what was found. Colon cancer screening isn’t just for older people.”
It’s for busy people who balance busy lives at work and home. It’s for caregivers. It’s for people who might feel totally healthy. It’s for people who confide in their friends about their journey with the hope that it makes a difference. It’s for people as young as 45 if they’re at average risk.
In other words? It was for Kim. And what a gift it is for her to be able to share it.
This story reflects one individual’s experience. Not every person will have the same treatment, experience, outcome, or result. Cologuard is prescribed by your health care provider. Talk to your health care provider about available screening options and whether Cologuard may be right for you. There are potential risks associated with the Cologuard test and it may not be appropriate for all patients. For more information about the risks, talk to your health care provider or visit Cologuard.com/risk-information for more information.
1. NCI. Genetics of colorectal cancer (PDQ) - health professional version. Accessed May 2, 2022.
2. CDC. Colorectal (colon) cancer: what can I do to reduce my risk of colorectal cancer? Last reviewed: February 8, 2021. Accessed May 2. 2022.
Cologuard is intended to screen adults 45 years of age and older who are at average risk for colorectal cancer by detecting certain DNA markers and blood in the stool. Do not use if you have had adenomas, have inflammatory bowel disease and certain hereditary syndromes, or a personal or family history of colorectal cancer. Cologuard is not a replacement for colonoscopy in high risk patients. Cologuard performance in adults ages 45-49 is estimated based on a large clinical study of patients 50 and older. Cologuard performance in repeat testing has not been evaluated.
The Cologuard test result should be interpreted with caution. A positive test result does not confirm the presence of cancer. Patients with a positive test result should be referred for colonoscopy. A negative test result does not confirm the absence of cancer. Patients with a negative test result should discuss with their doctor when they need to be tested again. False positives and false negative results can occur. In a clinical study, 13% of people without cancer received a positive result (false positive) and 8% of people with cancer received a negative result (false negative). Rx only.