The colon cancer diagnosis turns the Omaha man into an attorney for health examinations
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – The thread of COVID-19 last year had wider health implications. Many surgeries were postponed to limit the risk of exposure and many patients did not feel comfortable going to the doctor.
An Omaha man who spoke to 6 News knows the importance of spotting a problem early on.
If you asked Carey Petersen five years ago how much energy he devoted to his own preventive health, he would tell you this is not high on the list.
“I was one of those people who was unable to see their family doctor regularly,” he said.
Life has a way to test that.
“It didn’t cross my radar at all that one of my symptoms could be colon cancer,” Petersen said.
It was stage 2 cancer.
Nowadays he does not hesitate to see a doctor. Early detection – the colonoscopy – saved his life.
“It was always something that would happen to someone else, not to me,” he said. “Colon cancer is supposed to happen when you’re older, right?”
From his early days of chemotherapy until his last days, Petersen became an attorney. Even with no family history, he urged his younger brother to get examined – his colon cancer was more advanced.
Both have recovered.
“The biggest change we’ve seen in 20 to 30 years isn’t due to better surgery or better chemotherapy. This is due to improved screening, ”said Dr. George Dittrick, surgical oncologist at the Methodist Eastbrook Cancer Center.
Petersen is still thinking about what could have been today.
Three years ago, on a Mexican vacation, he thought a stomach bug would keep him down – likely food poisoning. It was taking longer than usual, so he pushed back his original cancer screening – something that happened in droves during the pandemic.
“Anecdotally, over the past six months we’ve seen cancers appear to be more advanced than they were a year ago due to late diagnosis,” said Dr. Dit trick.
There is no doubt that this is a concern of many in the medical field – something else that should be investigated in the long term from 2020 onwards.
“I think the result could have been very different if we hadn’t noticed it,” said Petersen. “It has had a huge impact on my life and I have a new appreciation for my life after going through it all.”
The American Cancer Society recommends that people at an average risk of colon cancer begin regular checkups by age 45.
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