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Faith, Hope and Vigilance Guided Colon Cancer Survivor

March 17, 2014

When she was first diagnosed with colorectal cancer, Sandra Heinrich was 40 years old. Indeed, when she told her doctor she had blood in her stool, the doctor said, “You’re too young to have cancer.” Her gastroenterologist, however, suggested she get a colonoscopy immediately. The test revealed Heinrich’s tumor.

After being diagnosed at age 40, Sandra Heinrich won her battle with colorectal cancer.

Though the doctor told her she had a 60 percent chance of survival, Heinrich knew she faced the biggest challenge of her life. She said her strong faith helped her make peace with the journey ahead.

Her surgeon remained positive. The cancer was diagnosed as stage 2, and it had not spread to her lymph nodes.

“The surgeon told me, ‘I only intend to go into your belly one time,’” Heinrich said.

The surgery was a success, and normal life returned for Heinrich. But four years later, a CT scan showed that another tumor appeared to have developed in her colon.

“This time it really scared me. My sense of security was shattered,” Heinrich said.

Doctors scheduled another surgery, and after a few moments of prayer, Heinrich began her second operation. The surgeon paged her husband 45 minutes into the procedure to tell him there was no cancer. The tumor wasn’t there.

“I believe God healed me from the cancer in my body. I don’t question it,” she said. “But regardless of your faith, this kind of cancer is preventable and treatable and beatable.  You have to listen to your body.”

As a cancer survivor, Heinrich is dedicated to reaching out to other people who have faced the disease. She is very involved with the cancer survivor network at her hospital and visits with cancer patients every week.  

“When I share my story I can see the hope in the patients’ eyes just by telling them that I am a survivor, too,” she said.

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Tommie Chambers, of Columbus, Ga. knows his situation is unique. He was able to recover from colon cancer without chemotherapy or radiation. But as a survivor, he has resumed his normal life and wants to tell others about it.

“Yes, I had cancer, but today, I claim victory!” Chambers said.

When Chambers was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2009 at age 62, he had never had a colonoscopy. He had checkups with his doctor occasionally, but he said he never felt the need to get screened. He was healthy and active, after all.

March 21, 2014

Within three years, Beverly Flowers had battled two kinds of cancer. The Jonesboro, Ga., resident had barely recovered from breast cancer when she was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2003. She was only in her 40s.

March 6, 2014

For Herman Anderson, it’s all about getting people to get screened for cancer. When the Marietta, Ga., resident was diagnosed with stage 2 colorectal cancer in 2006, he was 62 years old and had never been screened. He knows better now.

“I went to see my primary care physician because I was having some discomfort,” he said. “Thank goodness she required that I get a colonoscopy, and that’s how we found it.”