Before undergoing surgery,
cancer patients should look
for experienced surgeons, get
second opinions and ask about
the risks and benefits.
By Stephen Ornes
essica Martin, a full-time college professor, was midway
through a busy year as president of the parent-teacher
organization at her children’s elementary school when she
began experiencing persistent stomach pain, constipation
and diarrhea. A visit to a gastroenterologist in March 2013 led to a
diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome, brought on, the doctor said, by
a stomach virus and an overtaxed immune system. He recommended
a gluten-free diet for the then 38-year-old mother of two.
When Martin’s symptoms worsened despite changes to her diet, she
returned to her doctor and insisted that they keep looking for answers.
The doctor suggested a colonoscopy, which revealed a mass in her
sigmoid colon. Additional scans showed metastatic lesions on her liver,
and she was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer in April 2013.