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Tina Ketah

Program Administrator

Age: 48

Tina's Story

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I got screened...

because I have family history of colorectal cancer in my family. In my immediate family and my extended family. Even my best friend from childhood had colon cancer. I chose to get screened because I know that screening can definitely save a life. Finding polyps and taking them out is really important.

I have a cousin whose mom passed away from colon cancer, last summer. And it was very… it was really sad. Her youngest son is just a teenager. I’ve already talked to him and said, “you know, we can prevent this. Let’s not let this happen to others in our family.

To tell the truth I don’t really remember any of my actual colonoscopy. Everybody was really nice and they were friendly and professional. The last thing I can say is I was lying on the exam table and my endoscopist said, ‘Tina, count from ten. Ten, nine, Goodbye!’ and that is the last thing I remember. So it went really smoothly.

I have some friends and some co-workers who are already 50. And they haven’t come in for screening. I always say the same thing at some point, “So, did you get your colon screening yet?” They know I’m gonna say something because I care, it’s not because I wanna be a nag.

I think of it like this. I heard someone say: We have nail technicians that take care of our nails. We have hair stylists that take care of our hair. We have dentists that take care of our teeth. Why not get your colon screening too, it’s just part of the prevention measures that you need to do. That’s what I always like to think about it as- it’s not that big a deal.

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David Baines, M.D.

Tsimshian and Tlingit Tribal Elder

Age: 58

David's Story

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I got screened...

because I see lots of patients with pre-cancers and colon cancers. With screening we are able to save people’s lives.

I think it’s good as a provider to have gotten screened myself so I can encourage my patients to do the same.

I chose to get screened because it’s just such a preventable thing. It was kind of my birthday present for my 50th birthday.

The test itself is really no discomfort, they relax you with medication. I’ve had way more uncomfortable procedures than that. There is just a peace of mind knowing that they checked it all out.

If everyone got screened there would be very few deaths from colon cancer. And certainly if you have a family history of colon cancer, you really need to be checking that out because that increases your risk even more.

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Natalee Kline

Fitness Guru

Age: 41

Natalee's Story

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I got screened...

because being Alaska Native, we are more at risk for colorectal cancer… I encourage everyone to get screened, especially men.

I tell people my experience with colonoscopy was at first I was really super nervous. But I went into the room and they gave me something to calm me down. And then I basically went to sleep and woke up and the procedure was done. I had no pain.

I chose to get screened because I had symptoms that were pointing towards colorectal cancer. It’s important to use your voice to let your doctors know what’s going on with your body… Early detection saves lives.

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Mike Hermes


Age: 52

Mike's Story

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I got screened...

because I talked to a lot of the guys at work and several of them over the last year or two had it done, and some of the guys actually had found polyps. They motivated me to go get screened. I did what they recommended, and I’m glad I did.

I’m glad I got screened because I got a clean bill of health and that was comforting for me… It put my mind at ease. Now I’m good for another ten years!

Shortly before I went in for screening a very close friend of mine went in for a colonoscopy. They actually discovered she had colorectal cancer. Within two weeks she had the surgery, and went through chemotherapy. She went through 12 or 14 treatments and she is doing really well now. But if she hadn’t gone for the colon screening, I don’t know where we would be right now.

The actual colonoscopy wasn’t all that bad. The worst part is the cleansing. And starving yourself. I’m a big eater and it drives me nuts when I can’t eat. But the actual procedure was painless.

I tell people it’s just peace of mind; most insurance companies cover the bulk of the cost. A lot of the preventive stuff is covered 100%...Got it, did the test, good for ten years. It’s just a good feeling.

Real men suck it up and go get colonoscopies. Don’t be afraid of getting it done. It’s just an ounce of prevention.

Screening is just part of a healthy life. Get out there and stay active. You know, grab your hiking boots, throw them on your shoulder, take in some fresh air, and hit the trails. That’s what the doctor ordered.

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Paul Davis, M.D.

Family Physician

Age: 58

Paul's Story

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I got screened...

because when I started as a family physician one of my very first patients turned 50. I said “Do you want to be screened for colon cancer?” And I found cancer in an asymptomatic 50-year-old man. And I took the tiny cancer out, and he was cured. That was a great feeling. And when I turned 50 it was my turn.

I tell my patients: ‘You look nervous. I know it’s taken a lot to get to this point because this isn’t the easiest screening test in the world. That’s pretty normal. I was nervous too. But you don’t have to be. You’re going to be amazed at how easy it is, except for the prep. But even that is much better than it was 10 years ago.’

This is really the only screening test that has been proven to not only save lives and prevent cancer as well as find it early enough to be cured, but it’s also changing the whole face of cancer in this country. We’ve been doing colonoscopies and removing polyps for 20 years and guess what? The rates of colon cancer are starting to go down.

My message for others is do it. Just do it. This is the time. Get screened at age 50 if you are average risk and age 40 or ten years before the first person in your family was diagnosed with colon cancer if you are in a high risk group. It’s no big thing.

I ask my patients after they’ve had their colon exam, ‘How did it go?’ and they have a big smile on their face and they say, ‘You mean it’s all over? That’s all there was to this? You mean I lost sleep over this?’ They can’t believe it. Now, that makes my heart as a physician feel like I’ve accomplished something big because it’s not just doing the procedure. It’s actually saving a life.

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Leslie Fox-Leyva

Family Nurse Practitioner

Age: 62

Leslie's Story

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I got screened...

because my primary care provider said: “you know, it’s time.” “What?!” I said: “there’s no colon cancer in my family.”

The outcome of screening is usually a very positive cost and intervention. It’s important, really important. And I think you’ve got to take care of yourself…

It felt healthy to be light and cleaned out- I bet my colon has never been that clean! And I woke up and everything was over and I felt great…it went really well. I remember the surgeon saying: “You have the best colon I ever did see!”

I got screened, and now I’m talking about it.

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Velda Miller / Lance Miller

Health Educator / Heavy Equipment Shop Supervisor

Age: 51 / 52

Lance and Velda's Story

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I got screened...


Velda: I work with colorectal awareness and prevention so it is really important for me. I want to encourage couples like us to go out and get screened and do a “double date”. Let’s take charge of our health together.

Lance: Health is always number one. It was really easy, they set you up with a date, in our case a “double date”.

Velda: I think we had the best provider ever and he was so thrilled and set up a room side by side for us. It was a very comfortable process. It certainly gave me peace of mind and especially gave me peace of mind that my husband was healthy and free of cancer.

Lance: Ah, it’s a piece of cake!

Velda: It’s the best double date I’ve ever gone on with my husband. (Laughs)