Stephanie Luke is a 38-year-old mother of two sons and a full-time ultrasound tech who was diagnosed with stage two colorectal cancer this past November. Before her diagnosis, she was completely healthy and had no family history of the disease.
“I noticed bleeding after using the restroom and assumed it was caused by hemorrhoids, so I wasn’t worried,” Luke said. “But a month later, I still saw blood.”
Her gastroenterologist, Dr. Bhavtosh Dedania of Gastroenterology Center of Tampa Bay, recommended a colonoscopy. What he saw projected from the miniature scope camera worried him, and a pathology report confirmed his suspicions.
“Many patients are asymptomatic or have minor signs that something may be wrong, like bloody stool or nonspecific abdominal pain,” Dr. Dedania said. “In Stephanie’s case, she noticed something wasn’t right and made an appointment with us to find the source of the problem. It’s absolutely critical for our communities to be informed of the risk factors and signs of this disease, however small they may be. People with no symptoms should get screened starting at age 45. Those at high risk should talk to a gastroenterologist about starting earlier. The number one way to find and prevent colorectal cancer is through screening colonoscopy.”
According to the American Cancer Society, “colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S. and the second most common cause of cancer deaths. While the rate of people being diagnosed with each year has dropped overall, the incidence rates in people younger than 55 have increased in recent years.”
In 2020, colorectal cancer screenings plummeted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, Luke was able to get the treatments she needed to battle her cancer and her mom was able to go to some of her doctor appointments with her. “My family and friends have been with me every step of the way,” Luke said. “They are my support system.”
A friend of Luke’s has started a GoFundMe page for her since she has not been able to work and her step-father is making and selling T-shirts to help raise money for her as well.
If you would like to donate to Luke’s GoFundMe page, you can visit her page at www.gofund.me/357304d1. If you’d like to purchase one of Luke’s T-shirts, you can visit https://oldgloryapparelusa.com/collections/frontpage/products/not-today-colon-cancer.