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      Two cancers before 40: Rockford native shares her story of beating colon and breast cancer

      Janell Forshier

      It was 2018, and 38-year-old Janell Forshier didn’t want to make much of the pain she was experiencing on her right side. For six months she knew something wasn’t right but, "after being diagnosed with and beating breast cancer when I was 30, I just didn’t want to deal with another possible cancer diagnosis," she said.

      It wasn’t until the twisting pain moved to her left side and she became extremely uncomfortable, did Janell decide to go to the doctor. Later that night, she ended up in the Emergency Department cramping and gasping for air. After running tests, including a CT scan of the abdomen, she was initially diagnosed with diverticulitis. A week later, she was back in Emergency Department, and this time the medical staff determined that the findings on CT scan may be mass or tumor.

      Soon after, Janell was seen urgently by Corrie Scott, APN and Dr. Clinton Snedegar at Rockford Gastroenterology Associates (RGA). During that urgent colonoscopy, Dr. Snedegar detected a cancerous tumor, and Janell was scheduled for surgery immediately. According to Dr. Snedegar, it was good that Janell came in when she did, as the tumor was likely fast growing. Surgery was a success as the surgeon was able to resect all of the tumor and, thankfully, her margins were clear.

      With no family history of colon cancer, Janell jokingly calls herself, "the lucky one." She did do genetic counseling and found that because of a gene for Lynch Syndrome found in her family, she was at higher risk of getting various types of cancer. And while she’s reached the 10-year "clear" mark for breast cancer screening, she has lab work every six months, a colonoscopy every year and has an endoscopy every three years.

      Now 42, Janell is still on the younger side of the recommended age for getting your first colonoscopy for colon cancer screening, which has been recently lowered to age 45. But with colon cancer being the second most common cancer in women (after breast cancer), taking the time to get screened far outweighs the alternatives. And she also recommends not ignoring the signs, like she did.

      "If I hadn’t come in when I did, the tumor would have grown at a rapid pace, and there’s a chance I wouldn’t have made it," Janell said.

      Janell’s experience with RGA was an emergency situation, but in hindsight, it was a positive one. "Everyone was so friendly, attentive and on top of things," she said. "It made the whole process so much better."

      Today, Janell is feeling great. She and her family moved to Colorado in 2019 and are looking forward to exploring their new surroundings with their dog Madison, now that COVID restrictions are being lifted.

      "We are excited about meeting new people, going camping, having adventures, and enjoying life!" Janell said.