Those are the tips Sheila Decker, a nine-year colon cancer survivor, said can help people diagnosed with cancer survive the treatment process.
Decker was first diagnosed with colon cancer in March of 2005 during a check-up at her doctor’s office.
Tests determined the cancer to be in the first stage and that her lymph nodes weren’t affected.
She underwent five years of treatment with an oncologist and is in now in remission.
She said she didn’t require any chemotherapy or radiation as part of her treatment. Instead, doctors removed the portion of her colon – about eight to 12 inches – that contained the cancerous cells.
Decker said she didn’t have any symptoms that would make her suspect she had cancer, but pointed out that catching it before there are symptoms improves one’s chances of surviving cancer.
Following her diagnosis, Decker set up a support group for cancer patients and survivors in Ohio County, where she lives and works as a program assistant with the local Extension office.
She said the group provided a strong support structure for those involved.
Her development of the group and its goals helped introduce her to local cancer survivor support agencies, including some of the staff at the Kentucky Cancer Program in Owensboro. (The Kentucky Cancer Program just wrapped up a successful “colon cancer awareness month” program this month.)
“Keep a positive attitude. That helps tremendously,” she said. “Do what your doctor tells you to do.”
Decker said she encourages people to get check-ups, adding, she wishes “more doctors would” press the importance of the check-up with their patients.
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