Shelly Zimmerman: Colon Cancer

“If there is one thing I want to do, it is to convince people not to put off having a colonoscopy. My experience has taught me that this test is too important to postpone.”

“If there is one thing I want to do, it is to convince people not to put off having a colonoscopy,” said Shelly Zimmerman. “My experience has taught me that this test is too important to postpone.”

Shelly describes herself as “an extremely healthy woman” whose hospital experience had been limited to the birth of her three children and a laparoscopic gallbladder removal. When Shelly turned 50, she had an annual physical, and her primary care physician told her it was time for her first colonoscopy. Not feeling there was a great urgency, Shelly rescheduled her appointment several times to accommodate her work and personal schedule.

When Harshad Patel, MD, performed the colonoscopy, he told Shelly, “You can thank whoever sent you here for your life.” The test revealed a suspicious growth, which a biopsy confirmed  was cancer. “I was in shock,” Shelly said, “because no one in my family had ever had colon cancer, and I had absolutely no symptoms.”

Shelly was referred to general surgeon Christopher Pfeifer, DO. “He was very informed and professional, and he spent more than an hour with me, explaining what he would do and what I could expect. I knew I was in good hands,” Shelly said. “Dr. Pfeifer’s office staff was great, too, and they scheduled me for surgery quickly, so I wouldn’t have to wait and worry.”

Dr. Pfeifer successfully performed laparoscopic surgery to remove an 8-cm tumor that had grown through Shelly’s intestinal wall, but fortunately had not spread to the lymph nodes.

During her three day stay at Allegiance Health, Shelly said, “The nursing staff did an outstanding job of caring for me. They were very kind and went above and beyond to make me feel comfortable and safe. I am very grateful to them.”

Now back to work full time, Shelly says she “feels blessed for her personal relationship with Christ, a wonderful support system, great care and her life.”  

Early detection is key to successful cancer treatment. Your health care provider can help you identify your risks and recommend routine screenings that could save your life.