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“Early Detection Is What Saved Me,” Survivor Says

March 24, 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.

Beverly Flowers urges her peers to get screened for colon cancer.

Flowers, now 60, said it was because of her previous cancer battle that doctors detected her colon cancer. She was 45 when menopause began to set in, and when mild symptoms of diarrhea and constipation surfaced, her doctor decided she needed a colonoscopy. And there it was.

“If I had waited until 50, when doctors recommend you get your first colonoscopy, I wouldn’t be here,” she said.

The fact that she got cancer twice at such a young age and within such a short amount of time seemed unheard of. Her doctors were never able to determine if the cancers were related.

“I was extremely anxious with my second diagnosis because I didn’t fit into any category. I was young, healthy and had no history of either cancer in my family. I was blindsided,” Flowers said.

Flowers had to have surgery and chemotherapy, which she said “wreaked havoc” on her body for the second time in three years. But she didn’t give up. 

“I was determined to be a thriver, not just a survivor,” she said. “I was still a newlywed, and although cancer had already taken away my ability to have a baby, I was not going to let it take away anything more from me.”

Given her unlikely circumstances, Flowers still jokingly refers to herself as “a walking time bomb.” But she said she also knows she’s blessed to be alive.

“I will never be that person with my head in the sand again. Early detection is what saved me. So I preach screenings to everyone I can,” she said. “Even if one person goes and gets a colonoscopy as a result, maybe I will have helped that person live to beat cancer like I did.”

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March 28, 2014

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 13, 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.

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.”