Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: A survivor's story on the importance of screening

March 11, 2024

Regina Lassabe is a behavioral health therapist here at Infinity Health. Colorectal Cancer Awareness month is not only important to her, it is personal. Regina is a colon cancer survivor. Read her story below!

“At the age of 29 I went to the doctor hoping to get a colonoscopy to confirm I had diverticulitis (Diverticula are small, bulging pouches that can form in the lining of your digestive system). Since I had pain that persistented and would last for a few days, abdominal tenderness and dark blood and bright red blood in my stool, the doctor decided to do an endoscopy and a colonoscopy. I’ll never forget the doctor coming in after the procedure telling me that my endoscopy looked so good, he almost didn’t do the colonoscopy, but he stated since I did the prep he might as well do it. He proceeded to tell me that when he viewed my colon it was as like looking at a 50-year-olds colon. He had found many polyps in my colon but one stood out the most. He took a biopsy of the polyp to determine if it was cancer. I finally received a call a few days later with the word “It is cancerous”. I remember just a week prior I was crying because I was going to turn 30 in a few months and now I was crying begging and praying to see 30. Colon cancer? How? I have no family history of colon cancer. I was a wife and a mother of three who I wanted to see grow up. I saw a future that I may never get to see.

About a week later the doctor decided to do another colonoscopy to remove the cancerous polyp and referred me to see an oncologist and that is when they told me due to the grading of the cancer it was recommend removing part of my colon. There was no question about it I was going to have a colon resection to remove part of my colon in hopes that I would not have to have any more treatments like Chemo or radiation.

It was set into motion, I went in and had part of my colon removed. I struggled in the beginning with the resection, but I was so lucky to be alive and to catch this early. The doctor told me if I had waited till “screening age” I may not have made it. I had so much support through this time from family, friends, co-workers, and church community that helped give me strength to move forward. I walked around for years with a gnarly scar but was able to look down and say this was a battle scar and has given me life.

I started off with having one colonoscopy every year for about 5 years and then “graduated” to having them every two years, which I will continue every 2 years for the rest of my life. Each colonoscopy that I get they remove polyps and I like to look at it as another year of living. My doctors recommend all my children get screened at the age of 19, 10 years prior to my diagnosis to ensure they catch any polyp growth. Get screened I tell them, don’t wait, you are never too young.

I am now 40 years old, and I am alive. That colonoscopy gave me life. I have watched two of my children graduate and can’t wait to watch the third one walk across the stage. It gave me the ability to watch my daughter get married and one of my son’s ask the love of his life to marry him. It gave me the ability to watch my youngest boy grow into an amazing young man. It gave me the opportunity to graduate with my Master’s Degree and become a mental health therapist. I would do that colonoscopy over and over again to have a future.

You are never too young to be screened. If you have any symptoms that are not normal for you, get screened. It can save your life.”