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March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

 

Nineteen years ago, President Clinton declared March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Increases in colorectal cancer screening have saved thousands of lives as colorectal cancer is often treatable when caught early. Research shows that people with access to less invasive forms of screening, such as CT colonography, are more likely to undergo testing.

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Physician Spotlight: Dr. Robert Pugach

Fate took an interesting turn when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in late 2016. For almost three decades I had practiced urology, helping patients navigate the uncertainty of a threatening but treatable disease. Now, as a medical professional, I knew all too well what the results of a biopsy showed: a small focus of cancer on my prostate.

I was fortunate to have it diagnosed at a very early stage.  Since another family member had prostate cancer ten years earlier, I knew I was at increased risk of developing prostate cancer, so I made sure to have frequent PSA blood tests and prostate exams. 

My choice of treatment was based, in large part, on quality of life issues afterward. I chose to avoid invasive surgery because in my 34 years of urology practice, I had seen many men who experienced life-altering side effects including erectile dysfunction and permanent urinary incontinence. I decided against radiation because of the potential for high recurrence rates. In the end, there was only one clear path forward for me: high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU).

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Patient Leader Spotlight: Tracey

My name is Tracey McQuillan Dedering. I am a mom to a crazy 10-year-old boy named Zachary and wife to my rock, Scott.  I teach middle school Language Arts and am in my 18th year teaching 6th grade.  I love to travel, read, and spend as much time as possible making memories with my little guy.  I am also a colorectal cancer (CRC) “thriver”.

Two weeks after my 40th birthday in July 2014 I was diagnosed with stage IV CRC with metastasis to my liver, which might have been missed if a proactive doctor had not demanded a CT scan and a colonoscopy.

Doctors told me I was inoperable and terminal.  With treatment they predicted I could live about 3 more years, saying that my liver would kill me before the cancer could.  Thankfully, my incredible local gastrointestinal doctor who found my cancer also referred me to an amazing liver surgeon.   

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Patient Leader Spotlight: Holly

In 2011, I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. While no one ever wants to hear that they have cancer, I’m glad my doctors caught it when they did because my timely diagnosis gave me a fighting chance. Battling that bout of colon cancer was one of the most daunting challenges of my whole life, but I persevered with the support of my family and an amazing team of doctors.

Thanks to months of treatment, my doctors finally declared I had no evidence of disease, and for seven years I was relieved that I was still without any signs of reoccurrence. That is, until last December.

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Patient Leader Spotlight: Sheryl

I remember the day I was told I had rectal cancer, not only because it’s such life-changing news, but it was also April Fool’s Day. How could a seemingly healthy 41-year-old, with no history of colorectal cancer have this disease? The week that followed my diagnosis was a barrage of tests and screening that helped determine my diagnosis of Stage III rectal cancer. This screening was what determined the plan of action my team of doctors would take to help me fight this disease. My treatment path included 28 rounds of radiation, chemotherapy, two surgeries, andmore chemotherapy.

I am so happy to say I am now cancer free. Even with my cancer in remission, I’m still receiving regular surveillance scans to confirm my cancer is has not returned.

After my diagnosis, I wanted to do something to make a difference for others affected by cancer. I started to get more involved in cancer advocacy work and educating others, especially young people, about the rise in colorectal cancer. I am a founding member of a Boston-area cancer support group and am currently helping to co-chair a charity event to raise money to support colorectal cancer research. I also told my story to more than 1000 people at a 5k held in Boston, helping to spread the word and educate others about early screening and signs of colorectal cancer.

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Patient Leaders Visit Capitol Hill

Last week, patient leaders joined Right Scan Right Time for a Capitol Hill fly-in! These delegates from Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin had the opportunity to meet with a dozen Senate offices.

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Patient Leader Spotlight: Amy

A little more than four years ago, I was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer. While undeniably some of the hardest news I’ve had to hear, given my family history of colorectal cancer, I knew I was at risk. What I didn’t expect was to have to fight for a colonoscopy before I turned 50, but I’m so glad I did.

The same day of my coloscopy, my doctors also ordered a CT scan and found my cancer had spread, even though I had been experiencing no symptoms.

After surgery and six months of chemo, in June 2015 I was thrilled to hear I no longer had evidence of disease. Even with that good news, my doctors let me know that there was a chance my cancer could come back, and it was essential that I got regular scans so that any return of cancer could be caught early.

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Patient Leader Spotlight: Maria

I’ll always remember the day. On July 16, 2010, I was sitting alone in my doctor’s office, waiting for the results of a recent colonoscopy. When they finally came, the attending nurse couldn’t even make eye contact with me. The gastrologist had found a tumor in my colon, and he scheduled a CAT scan and PET scan to check if my cancer had spread beyond my colon. In a matter of days, I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer with three metastases in my liver. I was only 46 years old.

My first oncologist set me up with chemotherapy treatment, and I responded very well. After only six treatments I underwent a colon/liver resection, and after surgery, I reached NED status (NO evidence of disease). As of November 2011, my scans were clear. However, despite the promising news, I wasn’t out of the woods yet.

By November 11th, exactly one year after my first liver resection, I had a recurrence. The news was demoralizing. 

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Election Update: What the Midterms Mean for Medical Imaging

The midterm elections are over, finally!  While Democrats managed to regain leadership of the House, Republicans picked up three seats in the Senate – effectively solidifying their control of the upper chamber.

In a polarized climate, a “two-party” Congress will almost certainly be accompanied by political foot-dragging for the next two years, making substantive legislative action more difficult. This is why we want the Senate to repeal the medical device tax THIS year.

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Patient Leader Spotlight: Juliana

This past January, I received a diagnosis that would change my life forever. I learned I had  Stage III colorectal cancer that would require surgery and several rounds of chemotherapy. Thankfully, I had an excellent team of doctors looking after me and now, almost a year later, I’m thrilled  to say that my cancer is well on its way into remission.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t my first run-in with cancer. Twenty-five years ago, I tested positive for the BCRA-2 gene which means that I am at high risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. After years of routine screening mammograms and blood tests, I decided to get a preventative mastectomy. 

While I may not have had the best luck when it comes to cancer, I feel fortunate to have had access to the latest in diagnostic screening. From mammograms to blood tests and ultrasounds to colonoscopies, I’ve had them all.

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