arrow copy Created with Sketch. FightCRC Logo fcc-logo-light

Kristin Koval

Patients & Survivors Stage I Colon Cancer Tennessee
Back to Champion Stories

Kristin Koval's Story

When I turned 50, my doctor recommended that I have a colonoscopy. Now, 45 is the recommended age because so many younger people are getting it. Normally, I go for all my routine preventive screenings as I take my health seriously and am thankfully in really good health.

"I would've put the colonoscopy off out of fear and embarrassment. But because I had a friend pass away from it a few years prior, I went ahead with it, in honor of her. It went well, and they found a few small polyps, which they removed."

After the colonoscopy, my doctor even said, "They don't look cancerous." However, a week later as I was working from home, I got an alert that my lab results were posted to my account online, so I checked it.

Sometimes it's hard to understand the medical terminology, but when I saw "invasive adenocarcinoma," I knew that meant cancer. I had to read it and re-read it a few times to be sure. They even mentioned it was reviewed by another pathologist who agreed with the findings.

I was alone at the time and to be honest, I'm kind of glad. It was such a shock to my system and took a while to process. It was one of those life-changing moments, and I knew it. There was now "life before the diagnosis" and "life after the diagnosis." It was like the world stopped, and I thought, "What if this is it?" I knew I wouldn't die at that moment, but I had no idea how bad it was, or how long I might have, or what kind of battle I might be in for.

I thought of all the things I still dreamed of doing. It was like my life flashed before my eyes. At the same time, I was trying to tell myself not to overthink it until I spoke to my doctor, but I was in shock for several hours, maybe days afterward.

A short while later, I heard from my doctor, and she told me she was shocked at the diagnosis and she referred me to a colorectal surgeon. I had to go for additional scans and tests before meeting with the surgeon. The scans were clear, and my surgeon recommended that I have surgery to remove that section of my colon and some lymph nodes to make sure it hadn't spread.

While I was hesitant, I trusted her and agreed that was the best way to know for sure it hadn't spread. I had the surgery a little over a month later. The surgery was a success and after a few weeks of recovery, I was pretty much back to normal. The cancer thankfully hadn't spread, and they didn't find any further evidence of it in my colon or lymph nodes.

I ended up being diagnosed at stage I, so it was caught very early. I continue to go for quarterly follow-up visits with my surgeon. A month ago was my year anniversary of the surgery and so far, cancer free!

I am very grateful to my friend, who was the reason I went ahead with the colonoscopy. She saved my life. I'm fortunate it was caught early before it had a chance to spread. I'm very grateful and now encourage everyone to get screened.

Kristin Koval's Advice

Just DO IT and get it over with! I was scared of the colonoscopy, but am so glad I did it because it saved my life. It wasn't that bad, either. There's also at home testing now, which is also effective in detecting cancer. So if a colonoscopy seems too invasive, you have options. Just get screened. It could save your life, and potentially a lot of needless pain and suffering, and allow your loved ones to have you around longer.

You're stronger than you know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Stories

Patient/Survivor Stage IV Rectal Cancer

Kristie Reimann

Side Effects, Fatigue, Rectal bleeding or blood in stool, Ongoing change in bowel habits, Narrow stools, Unable to have a bowel movement (bowel obstruction) or constipation, Stomach cramps/bloating/fullness
Patient/Survivor Stage III Rectal Cancer

Ashlyn Carter

Side Effects, Fatigue, Rectal bleeding or blood in stool, Other (please explain)
Family Member of Patient Blood Relative Stage III Colon Cancer

Liliana Bolaños

Side Effects, Fatigue, Rectal bleeding or blood in stool, Ongoing change in bowel habits, Stomach cramps/bloating/fullness, Anemia/low iron