Jane Hofmeyer (right) discovered she had colon cancer after going through her first colonoscopy last September. Photo courtesy of Jane Hofmeyer
Fall 2014 brought Jane Hofmeyer, 51, some unexpected news: She had colon cancer. After going through her first routine colonoscopy during September 2014, Jane received the news on a phone call from her doctor four days later.
"I was driving and my doctor told me I might want to stop," Jane said. "The doctor explained to me, 'There's something there', but he said he was not worried. Then he arranged for me to meet with a surgeon."
After the call, Jane continued driving. She was calm, but like many other women, she was left confused about her diagnosis.
"I was confused. Do I have cancer or not? It was a whole different language," Jane said. I was asymptomatic; I felt completely healthy."
However, the reality of her situation eventually began to sink in. Having had a family history of colon cancer, Jane's risk was higher. She turned to her loved ones for support.
"The first person I spoke to was my friend Tommy - his brother is fighting colon cancer," she said. "Then I called my mom, she said, 'What? But you're so young!"
When I asked Jane about her mother's disbelief, and whether she thinks that women tend to shy away from routine examinations because they think they are too young or prioritize other things, she responded, "I do think women, even more so than men, put tests off because they put other things first. I put [my first colonoscopy] off for almost a year."
Fortunately for Jane, after undergoing colon resection surgery in November, it was confirmed that the cancer was contained in the polyp and had not spread to the colon wall or the lymph nodes. She did not have to undergo radiation or chemotherapy. However, the experience brought her a new appreciation for her life.
"Having that cancer scare really does make you look at your life," she said.
In Jane's experience, that first colonoscopy was an eye-opening experience that changed her perspective and prompted her to give women the following advice:
"For anyone who is worried about the colonoscopy test, it is not a big deal. It is a walk in the park. If you have any symptoms associated with colon cancer, if you are 50 or more years of age, or have a family history of colon cancer - get a colonoscopy. Mine saved my life."