Knoxville woman diagnosed with colon cancer encourages getting s

Knoxville woman diagnosed with colon cancer encourages getting second opinions

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Michelle Henry is a busy woman. She is a wife, mother, writer at the Moxley-Carmichael firm, and executive director of the Executive Women's Association. Michelle Henry is a busy woman. She is a wife, mother, writer at the Moxley-Carmichael firm, and executive director of the Executive Women's Association.
"It matters who your doctor is," said Michelle Henry. "I went to a doctor. He sent me away and didn't even recommend a colonoscopy." "It matters who your doctor is," said Michelle Henry. "I went to a doctor. He sent me away and didn't even recommend a colonoscopy."
"Colon cancer is a condition that is almost always curable if you get it at an early age," said Dr. Meade Edmunds. "Colon cancer is a condition that is almost always curable if you get it at an early age," said Dr. Meade Edmunds.
By LORI TUCKER
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A Knoxville woman diagnosed with stage four colon cancer has advice for us all. Don't be afraid to get a second opinion.

Michelle Henry is a busy woman. She is a wife, mother, writer at the Moxley-Carmichael firm, and executive director of the Executive Women's Association.

It's been six years since troubling warning signs of colon cancer made her take time to go to a local gastroenterologist.

It's what happened next that provides life saving advice for everyone.

"It matters who your doctor is," said Henry. "I went to a doctor. He sent me away and didn't even recommend a colonoscopy."

"He sent me away with a pat on the back and told me I was healthy and had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and for two years, that's what I thought I had."

As her symptoms continued, Henry sought out the advice of another doctor, this time Dr. Meade Edmunds with Gastrointestinal Associates.

This time, she got that colonoscopy she needed, and the news was not good.

"They found a huge rectal tumor, and that's why I was feeling so bad," she recalled.

It was stage four colon cancer. Chemotherapy got rid of the tumor, but the cancer had spread to Henry's liver and her lungs.

Would a colonoscopy earlier have made a difference?

"Absolutely," said Dr. Edmunds. "Colon cancer is a condition that is almost always curable if you get it at an early age."

Henry says faith and gratitude are seeing her through. 

"I never go a week without somebody saying we've been praying for you."

While some colon cancer patients don't have symptoms, others do, including:
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Obvious bleeding
  • Pain
  • Bloating
For most healthy people with no family history, current guidelines recommend a colonoscopy at the age of 50, then every 10 years if clear.

For African Americans with no family history, Dr. Edmunds recommends a first colonoscopy between the ages of 40 and 45.

If you have a family history, even one of polyps, please let your doctor know. You'll need to get your colon checked at an earlier age.

If you cannot afford the test, Gastrointestinal Associates offers free screenings once a year.
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