Kelly’s Story: From ignoring colorectal health, to becoming an advocate

By Buffalo Medical Group | March 5 2018 | Patient Testimonials

According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that one in 24 women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime. Thankfully for Kelly, a 43-year-old Buffalo Medical Group patient, she didn’t have to fall into this statistic, but things could have taken a vastly different direction.

Kelly began her career working in a colon and rectal department, and remains in the medical field today, so she always knew the importance of receiving colonoscopies, especially due to her family history. Her grandfather had colon cancer, and her father had pre-cancerous polyps. Because of this, Kelly worked with her Buffalo Medical Group Primary Care Physician, Dr. Brian Herbst, on a preventative care plan. It was determined that at age 40 Kelly was to receive her first colonoscopy, compared to age 50, which is when patients with no family history typically get their first one done. But, age 40 came and went, and Kelly had no plans to schedule her colonoscopy.

“I was in denial. I had heard the prep and procedure were a nightmare, so I kept putting it off.”

Despite the fact she was experiencing symptoms, which included bleeding, she thought this would never happen to her, because she was a young female, not an older male – a common misconception. Eventually, Kelly and her family knew she couldn’t avoid this any longer, and knew it was time to schedule her colonoscopy.

To make a stressful situation easier, Kelly and her cousins decided to schedule their colonoscopies on the same day so they would be there to support each other, and had Kelly’s mom drive them. They all went to see Dr. Jeffery Visco, BMG Colon & Rectal Surgery, and we’re referred to as “Visco’s Tribe” by the nurses and Dr. Visco himself. They had as much fun as they possibly could with an uncomfortable procedure, and the staff worked to make sure the felt at ease the entire time.

Despite the negative information she had heard, Kelly said the prep, Prepopik, a powdered solution you mix into water, didn’t taste bad as she had anticipated, and wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable as she had thought.

The procedure itself was painless as well. Kelly and her cousins arrived at Buffalo Surgery Center, and had their colonoscopies scheduled one after another. When it was Kelly’s turn, they took her back into a room where she undressed and put on a surgical gown. Before the procedure, Dr. Visco came in to fully explain the process, and make sure Kelly did not have any questions. After that, she was put under anesthesia, and had no memory of the colonoscopy itself, and did not experience any discomfort or pain.

When Kelly woke up, Dr. Visco came in to tell her he had found a polyp, and they had removed it, and sent it to pathology. Coming out of anesthesia, this conversation was very blurry to Kelly, so Dr. Visco continued to follow up with her until she was released to keep informing her of what he found, to make sure she had remembered the conversation. He told her he would follow up with her again after the pathology report came back. He had also informed her family as well, to ensure she would have the information.

Later that week, Dr. Visco called Kelly to deliver the news of the pathology report. He had told her it was a good thing she came in when she did, as she was found to have high grade dysplasia, which means if she waited any longer, she would have had rectal cancer. He reassured her over and over saying “We got it. It’s okay. We got it.”

Kelly greatly appreciated the phone call Dr. Visco made to her, and was informed that he personally calls all of his patients with important news like this to make sure he can explain the situation and what certain test results mean.

“The fact that he took the time to call me at night meant a lot. It’s a scary situation to be in, and knowing that he cared about me not just as a patient, but as a person, was extremely comforting.”

Kelly’s test results were added to her MyBMGChart and explained to Dr. Herbst.

“There’s incredible value of having my primary and colon & rectal surgeon both at BMG. They communicated directly about my results, and work together to keep me on a care plan based on my test results.”

With MyBMGChart, Kelly’s physicians have full access to her records from all group providers.

Since Dr. Visco discovered her pre-cancerous polyps, she is taking her colorectal health extremely seriously. She has already scheduled her next colonoscopy, which is one year after the first one she had.

Kelly is now an advocate for the rest of her family, and others.

“I’ve definitely been encouraging my brother to take this very seriously, and to schedule his colonoscopy.”

She also wants to make sure people know this is in fact something that affects young women, and it’s something that everyone should consult their doctor about to determine their treatment plan based on their family and personal health history. She hopes by hearing her story, she can encourage people to take control of their colorectal health, and be a success story just like her.

If you have any questions, or are interested in scheduling a colonoscopy, please contact our Colon & Rectal Surgery Department at 716.857.8751.