MountainView Hospital Endoscopy Nurse Christine Wahinehookae, BSN, RN, CGRN, CFER, has been caring for patients since MountainView opened its doors in 1996. As an Endoscopy nurse, she has cared for many patients with different GI cancers, the most prevalent being colorectal cancer.
Despite caring and treating for patients with colorectal cancer, she was not emotionally prepared for a colorectal cancer diagnosis to hit so close to home.
This is Christine’s story:
In 2013, my 46-year-old brother was admitted with symptoms of abdominal pain and rectal bleeding. He was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer, underwent removal of his entire colon with an ileostomy (bag) and chemotherapy. He lost his battle with cancer three years later. Since his diagnosis, I have regular colonoscopy screenings to check myself for colon cancer; his children have been checked and will require closer surveillance as well.
Sadly, we are finding colorectal cancers in our younger populations (30 to 50 year olds) more frequently, which is why current legislation has supported lowering the colonoscopy screening age to 45 from the original age 50.
How to keep yourself safe:
- Know yourself! Any changes in bowel habits, persistent abdominal pain, rectal bleeding should be addressed with your healthcare provider.
- Know your family history! Screening can begin much earlier if you have a first degree relative (father, mother, siblings) that have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
- Get screened! Don’t be deterred by the bowel prep…it is awful, but the peace of mind is priceless.
- Prevention is cure. Colorectal cancer can be treated if found early.
For more information about colon cancer, please visit the CDC
To honor those who are currently fighting, those who have fought and survived and to remember those whom we have lost to this disease, please wear blue March 6 for colorectal cancer awareness day!