Foundation Stories

A ‘Patient Story’

Dreaded Colonoscopy Saved Her Life

We value items, that others may call junk, because they tell a story to us. It may be a piece of chipped China that your grandma served holiday meals on or an odd picture you found at a garage sale that just reminds you of a time of your life. There's a story in that item and even though you may only know part of it, you just can't seem to part with it.

Celia Knoffloch, owner of Celia's Antiques in downtown Storm Lake, has spent the past 20 years collecting and selling items hoping that some person will see the beauty in what others may call a piece of junk.

Celia is great at advising people about their antiques and reminds her friends that just like some antiques need a polish once in a while, the human body also needs to be checked out. To her, friendships are precious.

"I'm great at advising my friends to get their medical checkups. I have a friend I had to really get after about scheduling a mammogram and they did find cancer. I couldn't imagine losing her," explains Celia.

However, she was not a follower of her own advice and delayed having a colonoscopy after her doctor had recommended one for a few years. Last year she noticed strange bleeding and finally scheduled her first colonoscopy.

A colonoscopy is a medical test that looks inside the colon and rectum for signs of colorectal cancer and polyps, which are growths on the lining of the colon, which can become cancer. Many doctors recommend people get a colonoscopy after the age of 50.

Dr. Jason Dierking, BVRMC General Surgeon, performed her colonoscopy. A pre-cancerous tumor was found and it was determined she would need more surgery.

"I just thought 'Are you kidding me? I'm invincible!" said Celia when she found out the news. Another surgery was scheduled for August 2015 to remove the tumor and she recovered in the ICU for two weeks.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 132,490 cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed in 2016. The lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is 1 in 21 for men and 1 in 23 for women.

If Celia had a friend that was in similar shoes, she would insist they take it easy and do what she could to comfort them, but of course this is not how she treated herself. She just thought, "I have too much to do!"

By not taking enough time to heal she was back with a hernia, complications from surgery wounds and other health issues. Husband Orren pipes in, "I nag and she doesn't seem to listen." Celia agrees she is not a very good patient.

Celia and Orren tell their story with laughter and teasing about whose version of the story is correct. They have been married for over thirty years, they could never actually agree on the exact amount.

But just like the stories her antiques tell, Celia tells her journey at BVRMC with fond memories of the employees she got to know during her surgeries, stays, and outpatient visits. "Everybody at BVRMC was the best - awesome!" praises Celia as she begins a long list of her new friends.

The list goes something like this, "Nurse Kim held me together when my body was literally falling apart and got me help. My nurse Caleb who was never bossy but reminded me I wouldn't heal until I started moving and came in during his off time to check on me. Nurse Deb brought me my first Dr. Pepper. Wound care nurses Joni and Alicia are the best. Sarah in ER was always an advocate for me. Richard always greeted me at valet. Hope and Ashton in respiratory are excellent. Did I mention Sandy from the Bistro? She wouldn't stop trying to find something that I thought sounded good to eat. She just kept bringing new trays of food. I don't want to forget to mention Amber, Kathy and Paula. I would choose BVRMC every time because I know the faces working there and they don't change. I hug so many people when I go back for appointments."

While all these people, and more not listed, would say they just were doing their job, to Celia and her family it meant everything. They laugh about it now, but this time last year they had no idea how many days they would be spending in the hospital.

"I'm better than ever," states Celia, with a quick, "No you think you are," from Orren.

While these two may not agree on all the details, Celia is alive because she finally got that colonoscopy. Now she will have many more years to debate facts with Orren.

Talk to your family doctor about your risk for colorectal cancer. Often around the age of 50 you should have your first colonoscopy.
Thanks to improvements in detection and treatment, more than a million people in the US, like Celia, are now survivors of colorectal cancer.

Celia states, "People need to get colonoscopies when their doctor tells them to. I dreaded it and thought I'd rather die first before going through a colonoscopy, but it ended up saving my life."


A ‘Patient Story’ from… Chris Rasmussen, Owner, Rasmussen Ford-Mercury, Inc. Storm Lake, Iowa (used with his permission) “Yesterday, I had gallbladder surgery at Buena Vista Regional Medical Center and was very impressed with the entire team of nurses and staff I interacted with - everyone was great, courteous and very helpful with my wife, Michelle, and me.” ‘Please pass along our thanks and gratitude to everyone who was involved - from the people at the reception counters to the nurses in surgery.”