Why Colonoscopy Matters | Vaughn’s Altru Moment

Years ago, Vaughn Jevning of Crookston, Minnesota, enjoyed many hunting and fishing adventures. Yet, hunting for polyps was never on the agenda.

“You should get a colonoscopy,” recommended Kamrin Macki, gastroenterology nurse practitioner, during a routine liver check-up in October of 2016.

At 65 years young, Vaughn took Kamrin’s advice and was in for his first-ever colonoscopy with Dr. Bradley Belluk the following month. 

No History, No Symptoms… Cancer?
While Vaughn wasn’t excited, he wasn’t too nervous.

“I had no family history, no symptoms,” he explains. “It was just a matter of getting in the door and getting it done.”

However, Dr. Belluk found something.

“It was a polyp, and it was cancer,” shares Vaughn.

Dr. Belluk referred Vaughn to the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute® in Minneapolis for surgery to remove the cancer. Surgery was successful, and Vaughn is back in Grand Forks cancer-free. He continues follow-up care every several months, and will for the next few years.

Vaughn quickly informed his siblings of his cancer. All were checked, and one brother also found colon cancer and underwent surgery to remove it—all thanks to Kamrin’s recommendation to Vaughn.

“My sisters had no problem,” shares Vaughn. “I think women are more used to going to the doctor. Before Kamrin mentioned it, no one had ever told me to get a colonoscopy. I’m so thankful she did.”

Vaughn continues, “Don’t be fearful. Don’t be embarrassed. Just get in the door, and they’ll take care of you. If you don’t find anything, it’s no big deal. Cancer is much scarier than a simple colonoscopy.” 

Why Screen?
Kamrin Macki encourages all of her patients at age 50 (or sooner, with family history or other factors), to get a screening colonoscopy.

“Most colon cancers are preventable,” she shares. “If a colon cancer is detected on colonoscopy, if we catch it in the early stages before it spreads, then it can be surgically resected.”

Roughly, one in 20 adults has colon cancer. It is the third-leading cause of death in women and the second-leading cause of death in men. 

Encouraging Others
Perhaps you have a family member or friend in need of getting a colonoscopy? Kamrin shares this advice: “Knowledge is essential. When people are well-informed of the risk of colon cancer and what can be done to prevent it, they usually will pursue screening.”

Vaughn is glad Kamrin educated him. “I’m just happy to be alive to tell others.”

To learn more about colonoscopy, visit altru.org/colon. 

If the cost of a colonoscopy is standing in your way, Altru Health System may have funding available through its No-Cost Colonoscopy program.

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