Patient Leader Spotlight

Wes Hensel

In my 20’s, I suffered from pain and bleeding that my doctors misdiagnosed as hemorrhoids. Because I was so young, my doctor didn’t order a colonoscopy for another four years, but when the procedure was finally ordered, they found a large tumor. At the age of 34, I was diagnosed with stage three rectal cancer.  

My doctors moved quickly with treatment – I went through radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. Luckily, I have now had no evidence of disease for a year.

Through genetic testing, doctors discovered that I have Lynch syndrome, a hereditary condition that increases your risk of certain types of cancer, including colon cancer. This means I will have to get a colonoscopy every year for the rest of my life.

So many young people, like me, are getting misdiagnosed because colon cancer isn’t on their doctors’ radar for their young patients. As a result of my experience, I have become a passionate advocate and mentor others in similar situations. Recently, I traveled to Capitol Hill to share my experience with lawmakers.

While in Washington, DC, I spoke with lawmakers about a variety of issues that impact patient access to necessary medical imaging, including the medical device tax.

The device tax reduces resources that fund research and innovation – which are critical to addressing the needs of individuals like me. Less investment in these crucial areas slows the pace of innovation and postpones patient access to the next generation of care. I asked lawmakers to repeal the device tax to protect access to the right scan at the right time.