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Penny Carr

Patients & Survivors Stage III Rectal Cancer South Carolina

Story: "My gastroenterologist misdiagnosed me for many months, telling me I was just stressed, emotional, and obese. He ordered several tests to confirm his incorrect diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

"This was all due to the fact that I was unable to complete prep for a colonoscopy. Instead of doing an exam, he basically accused me of being a baby about the prep. Finally, the only test left to do was a colonoscopy, since he refused to do an exam, despite my symptoms indicating that it was necessary. I fought through the agonizing prep and went for my colonoscopy.

"After I came out of anesthesia, they called my husband in, and the doctor informed me that he had been unable to do the colonoscopy because he couldn't get the scope in more than five inches because I was completely blocked by a tumor. He deadpanned, 'You have a blockage. It's cancer.' And just looked at me.

"Finally I said, 'so I'm dying?' And he said, 'The treatments are much better these days. Why didn't you tell me about the bleeding? I bet that prep caused some discomfort.' (I had no bleeding. But the prep was excruciating) and sent us on our way. I was diagnosed by an oncologist several days later with stage III rectal cancer."

Advice: "Don't delay. If your doctor doesn't seem willing to do an exam or listen to you, find a new doctor! Don't ignore even the mildest symptoms. If you were adopted and don't know your medical history, defer to assuming that there is cancer in your history and get screened as soon as you can.

"You're stronger than you think you are. Also, during treatment, ignore the cancer muggles who tell you sugar causes cancer, and if you crave a cookie, eat a cookie."

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