Colonoscopy advocate emphasizes importance of getting screened

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - It is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and it may be time for you to check with your doctor about getting a colonoscopy.

Carilion nurse Tammie Tran has made it her mission to spread awareness on the importance of colonoscopies. Tran says colon cancer hits close to home. The disease took her brother's life at just 35 years old.

"He's like, 'Momma, Momma?' Calling for my mom, and my mom's like, 'Chuck I'm right here!' And he said, 'it's just about over,' and we just busted out crying it's so emotional, and my mom said, 'you know what Chuck, you're a winner,'" Tammie Tran, a Colonoscopy Advocate, said.

Less than a year later--she lost her dad to the same disease, so at age 21, Tran got her first colonoscopy.

"If you know that Colon Cancer is in your immediate family, I'm all for getting early screening colonoscopies, know your family's history, know your symptoms, and discuss it with your family physician, and they'll know when you need to get one," Tran said.

And Tran's colonoscopy saved her life. Doctors found abnormalities in her colon and were able to remove them quickly.

"It's, in fact, the only screening test that not only can detect abnormalities but an also take care of them at the same time," Lindsey Bierle, an Internal Medicine Resident at Carilion, said.

Dr. Lindsey Bierle lost her dad to Colon Cancer two years ago.

"For me, being a strong advocate for awareness of Colon Cancer and how easy it is to get screened and prevent Cancer, it's just a no-brainer," Bierle said.

She says screenings are especially important because people may not have any symptoms at all.

Patients with no family history of the disease are recommended to start screenings at age 50. Those with family history may want to get screened much earlier.

Bowel preparation for the colonoscopy has also improved over the last couple of years. There are different options, and Bierle says some are much more palatable now than in years past.

Tammie Tran, Colonoscopy Advocate: "It's just an easy procedure to go through, and it's just a matter of life or death."