Please welcome guest blogger Jennifer Warren, an ER nurse at Lexington Medical Center. This month, she was diagnosed with colon cancer at the young age of 41. She shares her story here.
As I write this post, it’s March — Colon Cancer Awareness Month. I’ll get back to that in a minute, but first a little background. I’ve been meaning to write an article for months about Lexington Medical Center and the quality that is inside the walls of this place with this name. I’ve worked for LMC in some way or another since January of 2000. The last 7 years I’ve worked as a Registered Nurse.
During my time working at LMC I have also completed travel RN contracts at places like Stanford University Hospital and Clinics in Palo Alto, CA and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC, which are considered top ranking facilities nationally for a number of things. I am an Emergency Room nurse and I love what I do. I have flown home from California, or wherever it was I was on assignment, to work so I could ensure I did not lose my employment status at LMC.
About 6 months ago, I began having a very localized pain on my left side under my left ribs. It started out pretty infrequently, and I had no other symptoms. I checked a few things, but I thought it might be a kidney stone due to the location of pain, and didn’t think much more about it – I am 41-years-old and have no health history. The pain started occurring more frequently, but again I really had no other symptoms. I participated in PATH, the LMC employee benefit called Positive Attitudes Towards Health, and all of my lab work was what I expected in December. At the end of February I had two nights where I was so uncomfortable that I could not sleep, which prompted an Urgent Care visit. On March 1, at LMC’s Urgent Care in Lexington, I was told I may have colon cancer and I needed to follow up. March 1 – the beginning of Colon Cancer Awareness month.
I was able to schedule an appointment the following Monday to meet with a GI doctor to set up my colonoscopy. The colonoscopy was on Tuesday, and at that time I was told that he was more certain than not that I had colon cancer. During my colonoscopy they had also discovered that my colon was almost obstructed so regardless of the pathology results, whatever was there had to be removed. Pathology results at the end of the week confirmed his thought, and luckily I already had an appointment with Southern Surgical Group. Last week I had my surgery – 2 weeks to the day after the initial diagnosis. I still have a long road ahead of me, but am so very thankful to have a resource like Lexington Medical Center as my guide. I have been contacted by a Nurse Navigator and will be able to use the knowledge and understanding of the Navigator as I go through all of these new steps.
I wouldn’t have chosen any other place to go to for care, and my experiences as both an employee, and now as a patient, have assured me that this was the right decision. I cannot encourage others more to listen to your body, be aware of signs and symptoms, and follow through with medical screening guidelines.
Note from LMC: Join Lexington Medical Center’s Colon Cancer Challenge this Saturday, March 24th at Dutch Fork High School to raise awareness about colon cancer! The event includes 65-mile and 25-mile bike rides, an 8K run and a 1-mile family fun run/walk. Learn more here.