When Alisa Johnson learned that her mother’s colonoscopy pointed to a colon cancer diagnosis, she remembers a rush of emotions. Alisa, a community care partner for BlueCare Tennessee, says she initially was terrified thinking about taking care of her ailing mom while balancing care for her three young children.
“Then a month later, my mom’s doctor called me and recommended that I also schedule a colonoscopy,” she recalls. “This was a preventive measure since I now had a close family member who was diagnosed.”
With that call, Alisa went from being terrified to being determined.
“I was 41,” she says. “But I was face-to-face with someone I loved who had cancer, and I also had my kids to think about.”
What came next
Alisa wasted no time in making an appointment for a colonoscopy. But the weeks between scheduling it and having it were nerve-wracking.
“I just wanted to get it done and be healthy for my husband and kids and to take care of my mom,” she recalls.
During Alisa’s colonoscopy, three growths called polyps were found and removed. Tests on them showed that they were considered pre-cancerous. Thankfully, no additional treatment was needed.
During her next colonoscopy several years later, no polyps were found. Her last colonoscopy in 2021 also resulted in polyp removal. Because they were found to be pre-cancerous each time, removing them was all that was necessary.
“I wish my mom had gotten screenings earlier. But knowing it pointed me to get my preventive screenings is what gives me peace about it,” Alisa explains.
Her thoughts on the exam
Alisa always heard the prep for colonoscopy was harder than the screening itself. And on the first screening 15 years ago, she thought that also.
But she found preparing for her most recent screenings was much easier. Now, there’s additional medication that relieves much of the discomfort she’d previously experienced.
“Be proactive, especially if you have a family history of colorectal cancer,” she says. “My mom didn’t have symptoms prior to her colonoscopy. But from her experience, I knew preventive screenings had to be a priority for me.”
Her life today
Alisa made changes to her diet at the suggestion of her doctor. That includes eating more high-fiber foods, but fewer processed and high sugar-content and less red meat.
She feels grateful for the doctor who pushed her mom to get screened, and for the urgency of the call that that sent her for a screening.
If you’re at the age where a colonoscopy is recommended, Alisa urges you to schedule it. If you’re not at that age yet, but you know of colorectal cancer in your family’s history, talk to your doctor.
“If you’re told you should have a colonoscopy, get a leg up on any possible future health problems and get it,” Alisa says. “I’m not letting fear control
Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.