“Cologuard took the pressure off of screening for colon cancer and was a total blessing for me.”
There is no stop in Yla. Only go.
At 56 years old and on the other side of treatment for stage III colon cancer, that’s truer than ever. Between working full time as a realtor, planning her next adventure with her “cruise squad” friends, and hosting brunches at her home, you wouldn’t know how drastically different her life was just a few short years ago.
“I don’t live in the past. And I don’t tell myself what I would have, could have, and should have done by screening for colon cancer as soon as I was eligible.”
As it turned out, Yla’s timing with getting screened was remarkable in its own way. Just weeks before COVID-19 shut many services down, Yla checked in with her OB-GYN. She was feeling fine, but felt like the start of a new year was as good of a time as any to get a visit in. Call it good timing, call it random chance, call it a gut feeling.
“Coincidences? I don’t know about those. They only take you so far.”
A gentle reminder from her OB-GYN at the end of that visit ended up being the push Yla needed to get screened.
“I know you’re super busy,” Yla recalls her provider saying, “There is an option called Cologuard. It’s easy to use and comes right to your house.”
It ended up being the perfect option for Yla, who was 54 at the time and at average risk for colon cancer.
“It took the pressure off of screening and was so easy for me to use,” Yla said. “Sure, there was a feeling of what if but I tried to block that out of my mind.”
That what if felt a little louder a week later, when Yla’s provider told her the result was positive and Yla would need a colonoscopy right away to complete her screening since she chose a noninvasive method. In she went – having never had anesthesia, having never stayed in a hospital and doing it all with no visitors allowed.
“It was one of the last appointments before things shut down. I felt like a hero in an action movie, just sliding in before the doors closed.”
That colonoscopy set in motion a series of scans, tests and, ultimately, a surgery that revealed stage III colon cancer that would require chemotherapy – 12 treatments over the course of six months.
Yla used every bit of that time to let herself be taken care of and supported so she could finally process her emotions.
The biggest one? Shock. She had felt fine and took care of herself.
That shock gave way to gratitude for having a screening option that gave her control.
“Cologuard made it so easy for me to get screened. But the reality is that early detection is key. If you screen when you’re eligible and potentially prevent going through something like chemo? That’s the whole point.”
She has taken just enough from her diagnosis and treatment with her into the present that the past feels a little lighter – the memories of her diagnosis and treatment less burdensome.
She’s keen not to get too comfortable there. Not when there’s still so much for Yla to do and to be for those in her circle – her cruise squad, her brothers, her family.
“I didn’t ask for this journey, but it’s one of hope. And that’s what you have to hold on to. Living in fear keeps you from living. Live your life to the fullest, no matter your situation. Sometimes it’s by day, sometimes it’s by minute. You have to fight – that’s the truth of it all.”
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.
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.