As of 2012, Colon Cancer is the 4th leading cause of death. Many of us have loved ones or someone that we know who has been diagnosed with some form of cancer. March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and a couple of days ago, I had the privilege of visiting with 2X Colon Cancer Survivor, Shaye Dunn at her home. She is this week’s FlyGirl of the week and this is what she had to say:
Q. Tell us a little about yourself.
A. I was born here in Atlanta and attended Douglass High School and Georgia State University. My older brother Reginald, passed away in 2010. My parents live in Atlanta and I reside in a suburb outside of Atlanta with my pup Sasha.
Q. When were you first diagnosed with Colon Cancer & at what age?
A. I was first diagnosed with Colon Cancer in April, 2004 when I was 36 years old.
Q. What are the signs/symptoms of Colon Cancer?
A. Often, Colon Cancer does not have any symptoms, but common signs are abdominal pain & bloating, cramping, bloody stools, lower back pain, diarrhea and constipation.
Q. What treatments have you endured (past and present)?
A. I have had two surgeries directly related to the cancer – a colon resection and a left lung resection, and numerous others that were indirectly related. I had 24 rounds of chemotherapy and when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2010, I began Remicade infusions which I still get now.
Q. What advice would you give to someone about Colon Cancer awareness?
A. Please don’t ignore any signs and symptoms or let a medical professional tell you that you’re too young to have colon cancer or get a colonoscopy. You have to be your own advocate for your health. The recommended age for African-Americans to get a colonoscopy is 40 instead of 50.
Q. When were you diagnosed the second time?
A. The cancer spread to my left lung in September, 2005.
Q. How long have you been cancer free?
A. Thank God, I’ve been cancer free now since 2006 :-)!
Q. What role does Snoopy play in your recovery?
A. Snoopy was given to me by my best friend, Galen. He could not always be here because he was flying, but I told him I wanted a stuffed Snoopy. He found him and sent him in the mail. Snoopy is like a security blanket. All the doctors and nurses love him. They seem to get as much comfort from him as I do. He makes me smile, but I love to see how bringing him along makes the medical staff smile, too! I always tell other survivors to get them a “chemo buddy” or “surgery buddy.” It’s amazing how a little something like a stuffed animal can make a big difference.
Q. Now that you’re retired, how do you plan to spend your time?
A. Right now, I have been catching up on some much needed rest and doing a little traveling. I recently finished a photo/video shoot for Colon Cancer Awareness, so I will also continue working to be an advocate for the cause.
Q. What insight can you give about the expense associated with Colon Cancer treatment?
A. Treatment can become really expensive, so having health care insurance is very important. I never thought in a million years that I’d be diagnosed with cancer at such a young age (most people don’t); but it happens. Everyone should make sure that they pay into and are covered under short and long term disability through their employer. I’m so glad I did!
Shaye retired from Delta Air Lines after 30 years of service. She spoke very highly of how much Delta Air Lines supported her during her diagnosis and treatments. She stated that there was never a time that she felt as if her job was in jeopardy because of having to miss work or just feeling too sick to go to the office after receiving treatments. What a Blessing!
You can read more about Shaye’s story, make a contribution, or contact her by clicking HERE.
Shaye and I have the same circle of friends, but this was the first time that we’d ever really met and talked. She has such a sweet spirit and I know that her story will make a difference and bring about awareness. I want to thank her for being a beacon of light that shines so brightly and for allowing me the opportunity to use this platform to educate people, through her story, on Colon Cancer.