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Lauri Harsh, D.O., F.A.C.O.I., Eastern Iowa
A Young Bettendorf Mother's Colon Cancer Story
Forty-four year old Gina Bubon is one to beat the odds and wants to save other lives along with her own. Diagnosed with colon cancer at the young age of 39 (a disease people often associate with the over-50 crowd) Gina is adamant that no one ignore colon cancer symptoms.
"While I was getting my annual exam at my OB/GYN's office," recalls Gina, "a series of tests revealed I had microscopic blood in my stool. My OB suggested I see a gastroenterologist. While I couldn't see any blood, my former gastroenterologist suggested it was probably due to hemorrhoids as a result of bearing two children. He said a colonoscopy was certainly an option, but only if I wanted to pursue the test. I had no risk factors: no family history and I wasn't even 50.
"As a mother of teens, though, any risk of cancer was too great for me. I decided to have the colonoscopy and in doing so, the doctor discovered a long tumor in my colon about the mass of a baseball. The thought of a misdiagnosis frightens me. I wouldn't be here today if I hadn't had the colonoscopy."
Doctors removed the tumor. Luckily, the cancer had not spread beyond the confines of Gina's colon so she did not have to undergo chemotherapy. "I feel so fortunate and blessed, but it was scary," says Gina.
Gina's current gastroenterologist, Dr. Lauri Harsh, Eastern Iowa Gastroenterology, now examines Gina once a year for any sign of recurrence. "Dr. Harsh is just great and incredibly thorough," says Gina. "I am proud to say I've been cancer-free for almost five years. I ask that anyone with symptoms to get a colonoscopy. Take this seriously. Don't take the risk. Life is too precious.
Early Detection of Colon Cancer Critical To Saving Lives.
Thirty-nine-year-old Cory Jorgensen has a lot in common with his father. They both like to fish and enjoy being outdoors. Both men have invested time and energy into building family ties that last. And both men have also battled colon cancer and won.
"My father developed colon tumors that spread everywhere. I saw what he went through because he wasn't diagnosed very early in his disease. After added encouragement from my wife, I went to my primary care doctor. He did a blood test and looked at my dad's paperwork. He referred me right away to Dr. Lauri Harsh at Eastern Iowa Gastroenterology," says Cory. The colonoscopy recommended by Dr. Harsh lead to early detection of Cory's colon cancer. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S., affecting both men and women of all racial and ethnic groups. Cory says getting a colonoscopy wasn't as scary or as bad as people make it out to be.
"The colonoscopy was easy, "says Cory. "Dr. Harsh and her team told me what to expect in laymen's terms. The nurses and team at the Mississippi Valley Endoscopy Center were really nice and clearly pros at their job. I was home safely and comfortably a couple hours after the procedure." Dr. Harsh emphasizes that colon cancer is one of the most detectable, and thus preventable, forms of cancer. "Early detection is so important," says Dr. Harsh.
"Screening is to start at the age of 50, but if you have a family history of colon cancer or are showing any symptoms, you need to get tested earlier. Early detection saves lives!" While Cory was tested because of his dad's experience, there are symptoms to look for regarding colon health:
- Change in bowel habits, such as constant diarrhea, constipation and change in stool consistency.
- Rectal bleeding or blood in stool.
- Persistent abdominal discomfort such as cramps, gas or pain.
- Feeling that your bowel doesn't empty completely.
- Weakness or fatigue.
- Unintentional weight loss.
"When it comes to your health, don't be afraid to ask questions and get involved with your treatment. And remember, you don't need a referral to make an appointment at Eastern Iowa Gastroenterology," says Dr. Harsh.
Today Cory preaches that there is no excuse for ignoring your health. He emphasizes that the staff at Dr. Harsh's office even helped him work through insurance issues.
"Nothing should stop you from getting tested, even if you're intimidated by dealing with the insurance company or don't know where to go first. Heck, the team at Dr. Harsh's office even worked with my insurance to ensure my ten-year-old daughter could get tested to see if she was at risk because of our family history," says Cory.
If you would like more information about Dr. Lauri Harsh, contact Eastern Iowa Gastroenterology at 563-355-7602. For more information about the Mississippi Valley Surgery Center and the Mississippi Valley Endoscopy Center, go tohttp://www.mvhealth.net/