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Sharp Health News

Taking charge of a colorectal cancer diagnosis

March 1, 2021

Charlotte Demack credits regular screening with finding her colorectal cancer early.
"Just do it." That's the message Charlotte Demack has for anyone hesitant about getting a colonoscopy. Charlotte knows how important colonoscopy screening is because the one she almost didn't get saved her life.

Charlotte has always been on top of her annual screenings, but when a fecal blood test showed blood in her stool, she wasn't concerned because the colonoscopy she had 3 years prior came back normal. Still, her primary care doctor wanted to make sure, and referred her to a gastroenterologist for another colonoscopy. That test found a polyp, which turned out to be cancerous.

Because Charlotte's cancer was found early, she had options for her treatment. One option meant she would need a colostomy bag for the rest of her life, which Charlotte, an active surfer and runner, wanted to avoid.

"I really didn't want to have a colostomy bag. I wanted to be able to continue my active lifestyle. I appreciated my doctors listening to what mattered to me and working with me to find the right treatment option," she says.

With treatment behind her, Charlotte looks forward to being able to continue her active lifestyle.

With treatment behind her, Charlotte looks forward to being able to continue her active lifestyle.

Charlotte received radiation therapy and chemotherapy 5 days a week for 6 weeks at the Douglas & Nancy Barnhart Cancer Center at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. She felt fortunate to have minimal side effects and enjoyed seeing the team each day, including her physicians, Dr. Marilyn Norton and Dr. Ryan Bair.

"I had early morning treatments, which were so convenient. The team asked what my preference was," says Charlotte. "They work amazingly well as a team. I feel so lucky to have had a relatively easy experience because my cancer was caught early."

With treatment behind her, Charlotte looks forward to being able to travel again with her husband of 29 years. One of the first trips she looks forward to taking is going to Las Vegas with her friends - a celebration of health and happiness after overcoming colorectal cancer.

"Colonoscopy is the easiest thing ever; I can't say it enough," says Charlotte. "It's the best tool we have for early detection. Don't be afraid of it - just do it."

Colorectal cancer is highly treatable when detected early with screening. Learn more about how you can reduce your risk and schedule a screening.

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