Cancer survivor encourages people to talk

Colorectal cancer is one of the top four cancers diagnosed in men and women in the United States. Lora Wilson shares her story of survival from the disease as often as she can.

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March 18, 2024 - 4:07 PM

Lora Wilson shares her story of surviving colorectal cancer any time she is given the opportunity. Courtesy photo

PITTSBURG — Lora Wilson has made it her mission to share about her colorectal cancer any time someone asks.

“When people ask me about it, they get really quiet,” says Lora, a colorectal cancer survivor and Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas patient engagement coordinator. “They ask if I mind talking about it even though where it’s at, and I say yes. It’s a disease; it’s a sickness. I understand it’s uncomfortable to talk about, and that’s why I decided to share.”

Having cancer can impact the patient and their families, not only physically but mentally and financially. Lora believes the more people talk about colorectal cancer, the more they will see that there is a huge need for support and funding for those living with this cancer.

Colorectal cancer is one of the top four cancers diagnosed in men and women in the United States. Colon and rectal cancer are the third leading cause of death. Lifetime risk for developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 26 for women.

Lora encourages everyone to get their colorectal screening on time.

“I just tell it how it is; go get those colonoscopies,” she says.

The diagnosis

Lora knew she needed to schedule a colonoscopy. Her mother had polyps but no cancer and because of that, Lora’s provider suggested that she should get colonoscopies earlier to check for polyps because there’s a chance that they could become cancerous if not removed.

For one reason or another, she put off scheduling her colonoscopy. Two years after her suggested date, she was working at a cancer center, and after scheduling a patient’s colonoscopy over the phone, she decided to schedule her own—and she’s glad she did.

Lora, who was 41 at the time, went into the colonoscopy procedure with little worries. She had no symptoms, aside from some fatigue, which she mostly chalked up to being a mother and grandmother.

She woke up in a personal recovery room and asked her husband about what the doctor said, but he hadn’t spoken with him yet. Shortly after, a nurse came in to draw blood and told her the doctor would visit her soon. Lora had a gut feeling something must have been found.

She was right.

“The doctor came around the corner and said, ‘I’m 99 percent sure you have cancer’,” Lora says. He collected a sample during the colonoscopy and sent it off for a biopsy. It took just a few days but felt like forever for Lora. She had to go back in for surgery to remove the tumor.

Her diagnosis: stage 3 colorectal cancer.

It wasn’t a textbook case either, Lora says, adding that they had to take it to a tumor board. “They told me that if I waited six more months for the tests, I would’ve been on palliative care,” she says.

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