The power of prevention: How an early colonoscopy saved this young woman’s life
Colon cancer affects thousands of people each year, but with thorough screenings and expert care, it is highly preventable and treatable when caught early. This is something that Sydney Benton, a recent college graduate, understands more than most.
Sydney could always be found cheering for her favorite Dallas sports teams with her family or reading thriller novels. But, at just 28 years old, Sydney had also experienced several health issues, with ongoing bouts of anemia and no real insight as to what was causing them.
"I first became really anemic in high school and my doctors initially thought it was related to birth control,” she said. “When I was in my early twenties, I switched over to a new primary care physician and she referred me to a gastroenterologist after she saw my blood levels.”
Although colon cancer screenings are usually recommended for those over the age of 45, due to Sydney’s health issues and her family history of colon cancer, her doctor recommended she undergo a colonoscopy and an endoscopy as precautionary measures.
“The doctor said that because it was the third time I was anemic, they needed to see if I had any internal bleeding," said Sydney. Anemia, unexpected weight loss and fatigue are just some of the symptoms of colon cancer.
Sydney’s screening revealed a 40mm polyp (an abnormal tissue growth) in her colon that likely began growing in her teenage years. Sydney’s doctor successfully removed the polyp during the colonoscopy to prevent the cells from developing into cancer. This precautionary screening meant that she did not have to undergo further treatment, such as chemotherapy.
“Thankfully, the doctor was able to remove it all and I just needed to come back a few months later to do a follow up to make sure it wasn’t regrowing,” said Sydney. “The doctor told me that if I had waited to get a colonoscopy, it would have been a different outcome.”
As a result of Sydney's health journey, her family has been motivated to undergo screenings. Her mother also discovered a small polyp, which was easily removed without further surgery.
The experience has encouraged Sydney to take a more active approach to her health, and she urges others to do the same.
“Getting screened early is nothing to be afraid of. It is just a quick procedure,” she said.
With a passion for aiding others and sharing her story, Sydney aspires to pursue a master's degree in social work, embodying her favorite motto, "Always Stay Positive."
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