Screened with Cologuard: Colorectal cancer survivor
When thrust into a challenging situation or faced with a tough choice, Scott only sees two possible outcomes.
“You have a choice to either, in my mind, curl up in a ball and stay in a dark room, or become part of a greater solution."
Scott and his wife, Katey, have worked hard to choose the latter and instill in their daughters an example of strength and determination.
“We’ve seen it all. It could either break you or build you,” Katey said. “And you have to decide, every day.”
The family drew from that resilience in 2017, when Katey’s father was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. Just a few months after he was diagnosed, he passed away.
This was a turning point for Scott – for himself and for his family, he knew getting screened for colorectal cancer was too important to keep putting off.
“After he passed, Katey was like ‘You’re on it,’” Scott said. Scott discussed screening options with his healthcare provider and of the appropriate options, Scott – who was at average risk – chose Cologuard. Within a few weeks, he received his test result from his doctor – it was positive.
“Our world was rocked,” Katey said.
Following the positive Cologuard result, Scott had a follow-up colonoscopy, which revealed stage I colorectal cancer. He was only 51 years old, and still healing from losing his father-in-law to colorectal cancer only six months prior.
“You get blindsided with that,” he said.
During his treatment, Scott couldn’t help but think of his father-in-law, and his family still recovering from the loss.
“I think I was still raw from what my dad’s scenario was, but knowing that we’d found it early, I was clinging to that,” Scott's wife Katey said.
“My children were introduced to colon cancer when [their] grandpa died,” Scott said. “And then six months later, I’ve got colon cancer. To them, colon cancer equals ‘you die.’ I think it was a very, very big deal for all of us at the time.”
Scott had a colonoscopy to remove the tumor, and underwent surgery to remove surrounding tissue. Since completing his treatment in 2018, Scott’s follow-up evaluations have all returned with no signs of cancer. He did not need chemotherapy.
Scott is proud he can honor the memory of his father-in-law. And in the months following treatment, he has been compelled to share his story with the hope of educating others about their responsibility to talk to their doctor about getting screened for colorectal cancer on time. He’s been humbled to take on a role he holds dear: advocate.
Scott has made the most of every chance to share his story with friends, family, and even colleagues to encourage them to talk to their healthcare providers about getting screened. He has even driven friends to their screening appointments.
“My journey was an entirely different journey than [the one my father-in-law] took. Part of our talking about it, our advocacy, our wanting people to get screened is because he didn’t and I did. And I had a much different result.”
As a survivor, Scott’s gotten involved with nonprofits to raise awareness in his community. And as an advocate, he said he understands the power of talking to others and the power of his own experience, even sharing his experience and treatment progress with friends on social media.
Though his family would disagree, Scott said he never felt like his willingness to share his story was courageous. It simply felt like the right thing to do.
“It’s a gift. I’ve got a gift,” he said. “And if I don’t share it, it was a wasted gift. To me, it’s not even a debate. It was never even an option.”
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 diagnostic 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.