March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and the third most common cause of cancer death in women. In other words, colorectal cancer is serious. Just ask Mary Grimm, 66, nurse manager at Little Company of Mary Hospital (LCMH), who is stressing the importance of screening colonoscopies after receiving a colon cancer diagnosis just a few short weeks ago. However, colon cancer also is one of the most curable forms of cancer when detected early.
Colon screenings play a significant role in identifying a course of action for patients with colon cancer. Advanced diagnostic technology and procedures at LCMH allow physicians to tailor treatment options for each patient. Grimm, who has been a registered nurse at LCMH for 37 years, always has been very healthy and active – making sure she gets an annual health physical with her primary care physician Priyya Bhattacharyya, M.D., eating healthy foods on a daily basis and walking more than 12,000 steps per day.
“I went in for my routine colonoscopy in December with no family history of colon cancer and no symptoms whatsoever,” said Grimm. “When they found a mass and told me I had colon cancer, I instantly said, ‘OK, so what are the next steps? How do we fix this?’ – I never allowed myself to believe that I would not overcome this.”
Grimm had surgery to remove the mass on January 17, 2019. Michael Hurtuk, M.D., fellowship-trained colorectal surgeon at LCMH, performed her surgery using the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocol. ERAS is a newer approach for improving the experience and well-being of people who need major surgery. It helps the patient recover sooner, so that life can return to normal as quickly as possible. The program focuses on the patient’s active involvement in their recovery.
“The ERAS protocol works wonders, and my care team at LCMH followed it ‘to a T!’ I was home putting up my Valentine’s Day decorations and doing laundry just a couple days after my surgery,” said Grimm. “The role of a patient has been a new one for me, but I am so grateful to Dr. Hurtuk and my entire Little Company of Mary family for giving me such peace of mind over these last few weeks and being there every step of the way.”
Dr. Hurtuk urges both men and women to get a colonoscopy starting at age 45 – earlier if you have a family history of colon cancer.
“A colonoscopy only lasts about 15 to 30 minutes and is the single most effective way to detect colorectal cancer early,” says Dr. Hurtuk. “The good news is that colorectal cancer IS treatable. I collaborate with an expert team of physicians at LCMH that includes gastroenterologists and oncologists to create a customized treatment plan for every patient diagnosed with colon cancer, all conveniently located under one roof.”
“I strongly encourage getting your routine colonoscopies – they truly save lives,” said Grimm. “If it were not for my colonoscopy, the cancer may have been found at a much later stage. I feel so grateful today.”
When asked what’s next for her, Grimm replied: “I am going to get back to work, live to be 100 and dance at each of my grandkid’s weddings!”
LCMH offers online scheduling for screening colonoscopies without having to get a physician order. Go to www.LCMH.org/onlinescheduling to schedule yours today. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Hurtuk, call 708.422.8500.