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Cancer Patient: Don't Put Off Your Colonoscopy

Everyone has regrets in their life. Longtime Adena Health patient Kay Barker, however, hopes to turn one of her biggest regrets into an opportunity for others to make a potentially life-saving decision for themselves.

As Kay reached the age range recommended for those with an average risk of colorectal cancer to begin scheduling a regular colonoscopy, she was very hesitant.

“First off, I never knew of anybody in my family ever having colon cancer, but we may not have known because some didn’t regularly go to the doctor,” Kay said. “The only history of cancer in my family was two of my sisters with breast cancer. I just assumed that if I ever was to have any cancer, it would have been that type, so I just never really gave it a thought. I also was just a bit wary about a colonoscopy because I didn’t know if it was painful.”

Now, during National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, Kay is sending a very clear message to those, like her, who may be hesitant about getting screened.

“I could really kick myself for not getting a colonoscopy then, because I’ve unfortunately learned through personal experience that it’s very important for people to get those done regularly,” Kay said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends regular colon cancer screenings beginning at age 45 – even earlier for those in high-risk categories. That’s because colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always display symptoms in early stages, so the screenings are the only way to detect their presence.

Because of Kay’s continued reluctance to undergo a colonoscopy, her primary care doctor eventually convinced her at the age of 66 to, at the very least, take one of the at-home screening tests that are available. When the test came back positive, she finally underwent a colonoscopy in April 2023, confirming a colon cancer diagnosis.

“It was like the end of the world, it was just so scary,” Kay recalls. “Today, even though I got through it, I still have to cry about it. It hits you hard. Cancer is a very bad word, just a terrible, terrible thing.”

Kay feels she was fortunate, however, considering her delay. She underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments at the Adena Cancer Center, but did not require surgery. With so many members of her family living in the Chillicothe area, she said she was also thankful to have quality cancer care close to home that made it easier to have that needed support from her loved ones.

“They were just great,” Kay said of her treatment team. “I tell everybody, if you get cancer, you don’t need to go anywhere else for your treatments, you go to Adena. The cancer center is wonderful and I recommend it highly.”

Now cancer-free and returning for a follow-up check every few months, she urges others not to make the mistake she did, saying a colonoscopy to catch colon cancer early is far easier than all of the MRIs, CT scans, and other treatments her own delay put her through.

“I really encourage everyone to get a colonoscopy done when they are supposed to, don’t wait around like I did,” Kay said. “After I had it done, I didn’t know why I put it off. It wasn’t painful, it really was nothing. I just wish I would have gone when I should have.”

To learn more about the wide range of cancer screening and treatment options available through the Adena Cancer Center, visit