Siblings Tackle First Colonoscopies Together at RGA

      Jodi and Mark

      Mark Longmier and Jodi Dirkx knew that colon cancer and polyps ran in their family, so the brother-sister duo scheduled their first colonoscopies for the same day at Rockford Gastroenterology Associates.

      That meant they could prep for the procedure during the same time period, travel together for the appointment and then enjoy a post-colonoscopy meal together.

      "Neither one of us really knew what to expect, so we figured why not set it up and do it at the same time," Jodi recalled. "It wasn't anything we were excited about doing, but we thought it would be a less daunting thing to experience together."

      At ages 48 and 43, Jodi and Mark are younger than 50, which is when screening colonoscopies are recommended to start for people who have an average risk of colon cancer. But their paternal grandfather died of colon cancer, and their father and another brother had precancerous polyps removed during their colonoscopies, so screening was recommended to start earlier for them.

      After Mark moved back to the area from Texas, the plan was set into motion. They scheduled their appointments and Jodi's husband drove them to RGA.

      From there, their camaraderie helped ease any anxieties they came in with.

      "We were going back and forth between the prep curtain telling jokes, then comparing stories in recovery," Jodi said. "Everybody says the prep is the worst part, and they're right. But everything we were going through was identical. We would take pictures of the prep drinks and pills and send them to each other at the same time.

      "The procedure part was easy. Everything from the minute we walked in was amazing: The receptionist was so personable, and the nurses and doctors were outgoing and comforting and helpful in answering our questions. That all made the experience more relaxing. I would totally recommend RGA to anyone."

      Because restaurant restrictions were still in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they hit up a couple fast-food eateries knowing "exactly we wanted" after the prep process (which requires people to stop eating before their procedures). Ultimately, Jodi said they felt relieved to have their colonoscopies done and that they had such a good experience.

      Based on the findings of their colonoscopies as well as their family history, Mark and Jodi will return to RGA for a colonoscopy in three years (compared to every 10 years for average risk). Jodi hopes they can go together again – or if their schedules don't match up, she'll see if she can convince someone else to tag along.