When Cindy Owens turned 50, she was in no hurry to schedule her first routine colonoscopy. After much encouragement by her primary physician, Dr. Odette Santa, she finally scheduled her colonoscopy with Good Shepherd Medical Associates gastroenterologist, Dr. Bill Simpson, at Good Shepherd Medical Center Marshall.
“I will never forget Dr. Simpson's face as he came into the recovery room,” Cindy said. “With his soft-spoken gentle bedside manner he said, ‘I am sorry, you have cancer.’ To me, cancer is a scary, open-ended word, and that scenario had never entered my mind. I think he had to tell me three times before it registered."
Cindy recalls being shocked to hear the news that she had Stage 1 colon cancer and would need surgery. "Through the disbelief, all I could think about was, I may not be able to experience grandparenthood because of this illness."
The next day, Dr. Charles Kilpatrick of Good Shepherd Medical Associates – General Surgery, performed a colon resection, removing the cancer from her colon. Cindy was told before her surgery that there was a possibility she might require a colostomy. Fortunately, this was avoided because of the early intervention by her medical team. Cindy was relieved to find the cancer at an early stage, keeping her from having to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment. She truly feels she had the best team of doctors in the world, right here in Marshall. She said the care she received from her medical team at GSMC-Marshall was exceptional.
“The recurrence of cancer is always in the back of my mind, but I know I am ultimately responsible for doing everything I can to prevent it from coming back.” Cindy met a milestone on Feb. 18, 2013, when she was released by her oncologist, Dr. Linda Couch, marking her 5th anniversary of being cancer-free.
"My lifestyle hasn't changed since having the cancer,” Cindy said. “I continue to eat healthy and have routine checkups.” When asked what advice she would give to someone thinking about being tested, she replied, "If you are 50 or older or have a history of colon cancer in your family, have a colonoscopy. It could save your life!"
Today, Cindy enjoys spending time at the lake with her husband of 33 years, Patrick; her daughters, Cammi and Patti; son-in-law, Colin; granddaughter, Hayden and grandson, Landon. Cindy celebrated the birth of her first grandchild 10 months after her diagnosis and two years ago, she welcomed their first grandson. Patrick will be retiring at the end of the year.
“A lot of life changing events have taken place over the past five years. I am very thankful and feel extremely blessed that I can be here to enjoy them. My husband and my faith were my strength, and without either one it would have been a more difficult journey. Because of a great team of doctors and the grace of God I am very thankful for a happy ending!"
Cindy stresses the most important advice for anyone with cancer is "to be strong, stay positive and educate yourself. Research your treatment options and always communicate your concerns with your physicians."