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CHCS offers colonoscopy – and kindness

Elizabeth Littrell came to Community HealthCare System for a colonoscopy in May 2018. “I firmly believe that I wouldn’t be alive right now if I hadn’t gotten my colonoscopy,” she said.

Littrell had no cancer symptoms at the time, but her colonoscopy found a tumor that grew quickly. She went through treatment and surgery, and today she is fully recovered.

More than 145,000 Americans each year will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer, which is the fourth-leading cause of new cancer diagnosis and the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths according to the National Cancer Institute.

Screening for colorectal cancer is effective and helps identify the problem when it’s easier to treat. Colonoscopy is the preferred method of screening because physicians can find polyps or tumors and biopsy them at the same time.

Looking back, Littrell says she knew nothing about the tumor until the colonoscopy, and she’s grateful that she had the procedure, which is recommended for all starting at age 50 and continuing until age 75.

In addition to catching her cancer, Littrell said she found great care at Community HealthCare System. After her colonoscopy, she was told a surgeon would come to speak with her. Dr. David Cancelada was that surgeon.

“Dr. Cancelada’s bedside manner and calming presence helped me in those first hours of just knowing that I was going to be OK,” Littrell said. “Part of why I was able to handle the news as well as I did was because of how calm his presence was.”

Dr. Cancelada ultimately identified Littrell as having a cancer that exceeded the capabilities in Onaga, so he referred her for surgery elsewhere. Despite this, he offered extraordinary support.

“He probably spent the next 15 minutes on the phone with me and said it didn’t matter that I wouldn’t be his patient, but that if I had any questions at any time, I could reach out and talk to him. I was pretty impressed with that!” she said.

Littrell, who is now 61, lives in Frankfort and works as an office manager in a family business in Wamego. Her cancer scans are clear, and although genetic testing reveals that she is high-risk and she has regular follow-up appointments, she counts herself lucky. When she looks back on her cancer journey, she is thankful for Dr. Cancelada’s kindness.

“To go that step beyond and offer me support regardless, he gets a lot of props,” she said. “I really felt from the day he told me, OK, I’ve got this!”

Talk to your physician about colorectal cancer screening and schedule that colonoscopy soon! March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Read more about colorectal cancer and the importance of screening.


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