Colon cancer survivor: Get checked!

PHILADELPHIA - March 21, 2014

However, more lives could be saved and The American Cancer Society says one out of three people who should be screened, are not getting screened.

That's why March has been designated as Colon Cancer Awareness Month.

Terri Merlino, a colon cancer survivor, talked to Action News about her ordeal.

"I was scared," she said.

Terri was 42 years old when she had mild symptoms such as bloating and bleeding. She wasn't going to see the doctor until her youngest daughter Lauren, who was 8 at the time, said something out of the blue.

"She said 'You have to promise me you are not going to leave me,'" said Terri.

That sparked Terri to make an appointment that may have saved her life. She was diagnosed with advanced stage colon cancer and underwent chemo, radiation and surgery.

Terri is a rare case in that she has a genetic mutation that puts her at a greater risk.

Now, as a ten year survivor, she volunteers with the American Cancer Society to help raise awareness, because most cases of colon cancer can be prevented through a routine colonoscopy.

For anyone scared of the exam, Terri puts it in perspective.

"What's scary - what's frightening - is hearing the words 'you have cancer," she said. Getting a colonoscopy is not scary.

To help prevent colon cancer, here are some recommendations:

- Starting at age fifty, everyone should have a colonoscopy.

- If you have a family history, you should talk to your doctor, because you may need to start earlier.

If you'd like to get involved in the cause, the "Get Your Rear In Gear" walk and run is this Sunday, March 23rd, at Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park. All of the money raised stays local to help support patient care and research.

Registration starts at 7 a.m.

For more information, CLICK HERE.

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