The Joy and Gary Walter Story

Each year, Island Hospital offers colorectal-cancer screening to the community as part of its community health-education program. This is a hemoccult SENSA test, which is more sensitive than a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) and is a preferred method for detecting fecal occult blood which may be indicative of gastrointestinal disease. Not solely a test for colorectal cancer or any other specific disease, results can detect problems of which you may not be aware. Take, for example, the experience of Anacortes resident, Joy Walter. Here is her personal account of the screening she participated in that is offered at Anacortes Family Medicine each year.

 I am fortunate to have picked up a stool-sampling kit and submitted it in the spring of 2016. Feeling healthy, I had no reason to see my beloved primary-care physician. It has been my habit to always look into the toilet bowl after a bowel movement for signs of blood or blackened stools. I've always thought that it's smart to go to health fairs and participate in local screenings to monitor one's health.

I was shocked to learn that blood, not seen by the naked eye, had been detected in my stool. Blood was also found in my husband's stool. We both made appointments and had further tests. He had a duodenal ulcer. Mine was an esophageal ulcer PLUS stomach cancer!

Stomach surgery was performed and a small, pie-shaped section was cut out. The cancer was completely removed with clean margins. I am now cancer-free.

The Community Education program at Island Hospital offers this test kit every year. This year, my husband and I picked up our kits. Fortunately, no blood was detected in our stools this time. Although inconvenient – that is, it’s not just an in and out; you have to take the kit home and follow the directions – the would-be inconvenience is nothing when compared to maybe saving your life. Just follow the directions. That’s important: Follow the directions.

I highly recommend that everyone take advantage of this service. I have a lot of friends who go for the blood screening for cholesterol & glucose but don't pick up this free kit. According to the statistics, very few residents actually take part in this opportunity. Please do yourself a favor and participate in this potentially life-saving test!

The next Colon Cancer Screening date will be advertised in the winter edition of Heartbeats. Click here for a list of upcoming wellness classes and health screenings. 

Island Hospital's Community Education Department's low or no-cost health screenings are made possible by the generous support of the Island Hospital Foundation.


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