Colonoscopies: Just Get It Done

Amber Chrischilles | March 25th, 2024

“Just get it done,” is the main message that Albert City resident Alan Sundblad, colon cancer survivor and BVRMC patient, would like to share with people who are thinking about getting a colonoscopy.

Even if you feel you are healthy, colon cancer can go undetected with minimal symptoms.

Sundblad has always been one who puts his health first by exercising regularly and eating healthy. Finding out that he had stage three colon cancer after his colonoscopy last summer, done by Buena Vista General Surgeon Dr. John Armstrong, came as a surprise as he hadn’t experienced any symptoms and he didn’t have a family history of colon cancer.

“My health was good and is good, so I was surprised. It caught me off guard. When you hear the word cancer, you think, ‘okay, what am I in for now?’” says Sundblad. “Whether you are in good health or not, it could still happen to you.”

Sundblad underwent surgery that removed the cancerous section of his colon followed by chemotherapy treatments at BVRMC’s Oncology & Infusion Center as a preventative measure. Now, Sundblad celebrates that he is cancer-free and has completed his chemotherapy treatments.

After his surgery, a nurse gave Sundblad an assignment: to encourage others to get a colonoscopy. To complete his assignment, he now encourages his family and friends to talk to their doctors about getting a colonoscopy.

“By all means, just get it done and get it over with,” says Sundblad when talking about colonoscopies. “I’m glad and I’m fortunate that I did it.”

While colonoscopies can sound uncomfortable or seem inconvenient, they are one of the most important health screenings you can do. A colonoscopy is a procedure that examines your colon and rectum, checking for things such as cancer or polyps.

“A colonoscopy is a simple procedure that may seem daunting to some, but it is not something that should be put off as it is imperative to catch cancer at its earliest stages,” says BVRMC Director of Same Day Surgery Julie Anderson. “Raising awareness about colorectal cancer and colonoscopies by talking to your friends and family could potentially save a life.”

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women in the United States. 1 in 24 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime.

Thankfully, colorectal cancer screenings can prevent cancer through early detection and removal of precancerous growths. Colonoscopies are the most common colorectal cancer screening test and can help reduce colorectal cancer by 40% and death by 60%.

In recent years, the number of older adults diagnosed with colorectal cancer has dropped because more people are getting screened. However, it is important to note that rates of colorectal cancer have been increasing in people younger than 55 years of age.

If you are over the age of 45 or have a family history of colorectal cancer, talk to your doctor about when you should get a colonoscopy.

BVRMC patient, Alan Sundblad, stands inside the main entrance of the hospital.