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Elizabeth Tarver – Colonoscopy Success Story

Catching cancer before it starts – Elizabeth Tarver, colonoscopy success story

Elizabeth Tarver

Smart — it’s a good word to describe Elizabeth Tarver. When her primary care provider said it was time to schedule her next colonoscopy, she took his advice.

She was worried it had been too long since her last colonoscopy, but it turns out she was right on time.

“When I woke up, Dr. Macurak said, ‘I have good news and bad news: I was able to get four small polyps, but you have two large ones that require surgery,’?” Tarver, now 61, recalls.

While other tests can find colorectal polyps, only colonoscopy can also give the doctor the opportunity to remove the polyps.

Tarver’s gastroenterologist, Randal Macurak, MD, referred her to colorectal surgeon Paul Hackett, MD, to take care of the larger polyps, one of which was about 2 centimeters in diameter. Both independently practicing physicians are on the medical staff at Methodist Charlton Medical Center.

How surgery saves lives

Elizabeth Tarver and family

At first Tarver resisted having the procedure and wanted a second opinion.

“But when I had my consultation with Dr. Hackett, the thought of a second opinion just faded away,” she says. “He was so patient, and he sat down and explained everything step by step. He gave me confidence that this surgery was the right move, and I trusted him.”

The procedure, called colon resection, was important because polyps could ultimately become cancerous.

“In fact, you can’t always guarantee there isn’t cancer already,” Dr. Hackett says. “So the recommendation is to remove the area of the bowel with the polyps to eradicate any malignant disease that may already be there and to reduce the risk of cancer in the future.”

On Dec. 3, 2010, only a month after the polyps were found, Tarver’s surgery went perfectly. After five days of smooth hospital recovery, she went home, experiencing little discomfort. And because Tarver and her physicians had acted so quickly, there was no cancer to be found.

“It looks like I got all the good ones,” Tarver says of her doctors. She was especially impressed that Dr. Hackett prayed with her and her husband before the surgery.

“That just took my heart,” she says.

A bright future

A year later, Tarver had her follow-up colonoscopy, and no polyps were found. The grandmother of three is hopeful that her future remains cancer-free and has faith that regular colonoscopies will help make that possible.

“The earlier you have a colonoscopy, the better your chances are,” she says. “This test is so important. One call gets the ball in motion.”

Learn more about colonoscopy.

From the fall 2012 edition of Shine magazine.