Utah Mom encourages people to get colon cancer screening that saved her life
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – It was during a routine checkup where Mary Liefting first learned she had colon cancer.
Liefting said her doctor encouraged the then 50-year-old to schedule a colonoscopy, a procedure she now knows saved her life.
“They told me they found something,” Liefting said. “It was just, it was really scary. I was really afraid.”
She met with a team of doctors who started her on chemotherapy and radiation in December of 2020. Keeping positive was crucial which was something she said her surgeon, Dr. Michelle Murday, encouraged.
“She’s like ‘we got this’, like ‘this is what we are going to do, this is the plan’. She wrote everything down,” Liefting said. “She was so awesome and so confident that I like walked out of there and I was like, ‘it’s fine I can do this.’”
Dr. Michelle Murday, a colorectal surgeon at St. Mark’s Hospital, said Liefting’s story was not unique.
“Colon cancer is actually usually silent,” Dr. Murday said. “By the time you have symptoms in many cases, it’s progressed to the point where you’re going to require chemotherapy or we may not be able to cure the disease.”
Dr. Murday predicted Utah alone will have roughly 1,000 cases in 2021 and about 250 deaths from colorectal cancer.
“The vast majority of the time it’s a random genetic event,” she said.
Doctors say screenings are so important especially now that new guidelines have lowered the colorectal screening age from 50 to 45.
Just this month, St. Mark’s Hospital received national accreditation from the NAPRC for their treatment of colorectal cancer.
The hospital is now one of 39 in the country with the accreditation and the first in Utah.
Liefting is grateful her treatment plan worked and after her final surgery in October, she was cancer-free.
“I felt like I was really lucky and blessed in that way,” she said.
She hopes her story encourage others to go to all routine check-ups and to get screened.
“Even if you are feeling fine, what does it hurt to check,” she said.
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