Monona retiree encourages others to get screened for colon cancer

Dennis Rogers of Monona was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, and faced months of surgery, treatments and recovery. He now encourages everyone to talk to their doctor about colon cancer screening options right for them. Dennis is pictured with WMC Same Day Services nurses Jackie Becker (left) and Kristen Wennes (right).

For months, Dennis Rogers of Monona felt steadily worse and worse. The day he struggled to walk up the stairs his daughter finally convinced him to see a doctor. “My primary care doctor sent me directly to the emergency room, who then sent me to Mayo Clinic Health System Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse,” says Dennis.

Dennis was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, and the tumors had metastasized beyond his colon to his liver, kidneys and other organs. He had been living with cancer for years. “My surgeon in La Crosse, Dr. Nathaniel Uecker, was amazing and gave me the option for surgery. He predicted I had about three months to live if I declined surgery and let the cancer run its course.” Dennis opted for surgery, and after his first chemotherapy treatment in La Crosse, learned he could begin receiving chemotherapy closer to home at Winneshiek Medical Center.

“My care was transferred to Dr. Paula Gill, a La Crosse oncologist who comes to Decorah a few times a month. I responded very well to the chemotherapy she prescribed, and started recovering.” Dennis comes to Winneshiek Medical Center every other week for continued treatment. “They’re great people here,” he says of the nurses at Winneshiek Medical Center. “I just can’t say enough about them. There is nothing fun about chemotherapy, and they do their best to make it easy for me. Between Dr. Uecker, Dr. Gill and the Same Day Services nurses at Winneshiek Medical Center – they saved my life,” says Dennis.

Dennis admits he ignored preventive care. “I was encouraged by my wife, my daughter and my doctor to get a colonoscopy, but didn’t. Most men are like me and don’t want to go to the doctor. I wish I would have listened years ago and been screened.”

Colorectal cancer is the second most deadly cancer for both men and women. Yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most of these deaths could be prevented if everyone over the age of 50 got screened for colorectal cancer. Because there are often no signs or symptoms, the best way to prevent colorectal cancer is to get screened. If left undiagnosed or undetected, colorectal cancer can spread throughout the body.
Dennis’ advice to others: “You don’t want to be like me. Cancer is no fun. Talk to your doctor about getting a colonoscopy.”

Colorectal cancer risk factors include:

  • Age (age 50 and older)
  • Growths (called polyps) inside the colon
  • Family history of colorectal cancer
  • Smoking
  • Health conditions like Crohn’s Disease
  • Being African-American

You can reduce your risk if you get screened for colorectal cancer starting at the age of 50. You can also reduce your risk of colorectal cancer by:

  • Getting active
  • Eating healthy
  • Quitting smoking

Make an appointment with your Mayo Clinic Health System doctor at Winneshiek Medical Center to discuss your screening options for colon cancer. Call today for an appointment 563-382-2911.

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