Carrie Fleming was only 30 years old when she was diagnosed with stage III colorectal cancer at Piedmont Newton Hospital.
“I was shocked,” Fleming, a nurse practitioner at Piedmont Newton for more than 16 years, said. “I thought it was a hemorrhoid. My husband and I were thinking about having a second child and at the time, I was working as a nurse in the ER where I’d see pregnant women in a lot of pain because of hemorrhoids so I wanted to get it taken care of. Then, my doctor called me to tell me I had stage III colorectal cancer.”
Doctors at Piedmont Newton performed a routine colonoscopy on Fleming, where the inside of her large intestine (colon and rectum) was examined, and discovered she had a cancerous tumor, around the size of a walnut, inside of her colon. This tumor caused bleeding, which Fleming knew signaled that something wasn’t right.
“Because Carrie works in healthcare, she knew how important it was to listen to her body and seek medical attention as soon as she noticed the symptom,” Richard Carter, MD, oncologist at Piedmont Newton, said. “As is the case with many types of cancers, the earlier colon cancer is detected, the better we can treat it.”
Fleming had Piedmont Newton general surgeons Dr. Steven Whitworth, MD, and Dr. B. Carter Rogers, MD, remove her tumor and perform a colon resection, where any additional cancerous parts of Fleming’s colon were also taken out.
Following these surgeries, Dr. Carter and his team immediately started Fleming’s cancer treatments, which she received for the next 6 months. “I was able to continue working in the hospital in between chemotherapy treatments and I would regularly see Dr. Carter,” Fleming said. “I also spent a lot of time with my daughter, who was only one year old at the time.” Next month, Fleming will celebrate being cancer-free for 10 years.
Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or rectum, both of which are parts of the body’s large intestine. According to the National Cancer Institute, colorectal cancer is the third most common types of cancer in men and women in the United States. Like in Fleming’s case, colorectal cancer often begins as a growth, called a polyp, which can form on the inner wall of the colon or rectum and develops into cancer over time.
For more information about cancer services at Piedmont Newton Hospital, visit piedmont.org/cancer.