Severe stomach pain reveals life-threatening blockage

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As Deborah Adent (Yiatras-Yarber) spent the day with her son, helping him get around and taking breaks to enjoy pizza and wine, she suddenly felt severe pains in her stomach.

She went home, thinking it would pass, but the next day she developed a mild fever along with the pain and decided it was time to go to the emergency room.

During the ER visit, Adent received a CT scan which revealed that she had diverticulitis. Doctors gave her a series of antibiotics to clear up the infection and she was sent home.

Just three months later, Adent was back with similar symptoms and was told she needed a colonoscopy and endoscopy, as well as follow-up with a gastroenterologist.

“I could barely walk or talk during both ER visits – the pain was so intense,” Adent said. “But after the second visit to the ER I felt much better, so I went on vacation with my family, thinking maybe it had cleared up for good.”

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When Adent returned from vacation, she still felt fine, but knew she needed to follow up with the recommended tests. She made an appointment with Henry Ford gastroenterologist Kimberly Tosch, MD, who prepped her for a colonoscopy and endoscopy.

When Adent woke up after the colonoscopy, Dr. Tosch explained that she had near-obstructive colon cancer and needed surgery. Adent was due to undergo surgery at Henry Ford Hospital two weeks later with Henry Ford colorectal surgeon Shawn Webb, MD

Screening saves lives

Adent was diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer. She also had an obstruction, which is often life-threatening. It is a late sign of colon cancer that is not always treatable or curable.

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“For the cancer to become obstructive, it must have grown there for a long time,” Dr. Webb said. “Deborah was behind on her projections, but luckily she persisted in following up. This allowed him to have a good long-term result.

The most common colon cancer screening test is a colonoscopy. It can detect and treat precancerous tumors to reduce your risk of developing colon cancer. If caught early, colon cancer is one of the most curable cancers and it is recommended to start screenings at age 45.

Deborah and her children. (©2021 Henry Ford Health System/Photo courtesy of Henry Ford)

Successful surgery and restful recovery

The operation took place in December 2019 and successfully removed the obstruction from Adent. In April 2020, she began a three-month chemotherapy treatment plan to deal with possible spread to other areas of her body.

“In Deborah’s case, we identified that she would benefit from chemotherapy in the form of a pill, known as capecitabine, which statistically reduced her risk of recurrence,” said Dawn Severson, MD, chief medical officer of the medical oncology at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital, and physician. Director of the Henry Ford Cancer Institute Northeast Region and Cancer Survivorship Program.

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“My recovery was during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, so I didn’t do anything but rest,” Adent said. “Stopping completely to allow my body to rest, along with the incredible support from my friends and family, has helped my body heal completely.”

After chemotherapy, Adent’s blood was tested for success, and all went well. She recently had a follow-up colonoscopy and the cancer is gone. She is now on a five-year screening plan.

“It was a miracle, and it started a total transformation for me,” Adent said. “God was telling me it was time to let go and heal my whole life.”

Positive Affirmations

“I want people to know there’s so much power in your thoughts, and it’s just a death sentence if you look at it that way,” Adent said.

She begins to live her life to the full. She works full time as a caregiver in an assisted living facility for the elderly and enjoys spending time with her five grandchildren. She loves bird watching, photography and collecting crystals. She recently took over a craft and woodworking business with her daughter.

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She encourages others to make it a point to get their colonoscopy, regardless of family history.

“It’s one of the most preventative tools, and it saved my life,” she said.

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