It started like any other normal doctor visit. Warren came into the Howard Community Health Clinic in late 2012 for his regular check-up appointment. Warren is the hard-working, give-you-the-shirt-off-his-back person that’s common in rural South Dakota. A husband and father of two, Warren works at the local co-op elevator—and in a small town, everyone knows him as a quiet man who puts his family first.
During his check-up, Warren mentioned having blood in his stool. “It’s not a big deal,” he told staff. However, his registered nurse, Ashley, disagreed, noticing it had been five years since his last colonoscopy (which is recommend every five years beginning at age 50). Warren hesitated about scheduling his next screening. Getting another colonoscopy would mean going off his seizure medication, which could affect his driving—and could mean losing his job and income for his family!
Warren was scared, and while Ashley understood his concerns, she was still worried about his health. “Fine,” she said to him, “take an at-home kit for testing, and see if it comes back positive for blood.” He did, and the results came back—positive. Yet he still balked at the colonoscopy. It could be something small causing the bleeding, he justified. Ashley pushed back.
What if it’s something more?Ashley
Ashley sent a second at-home kit with him, and the tests came back positive again. She called him up and tried to help him overcome his fear. She contacted his family to help persuade him to have the colonoscopy. Since she was born and raised in Howard herself, Ashley knows her patients (and their families) by first name—and her personal relationships build trust with her patients. “What would your wife want? What would your children say?” Ashley pleaded with Warren.
With Ashley’s encouragement and his family’s persuasion, he finally agreed to the test. Warren was referred to a GI doctor in Sioux Falls in January 2013, and colon polyps were found during his colonoscopy. Surgery was recommended to remove the possible cancer. In February, Warren went in to have a portion of his colon removed. Doctors ended up taking both the right and transverse colon, an estimated two feet of colon length due to polyps being malignant. Complications required a second surgery, but the cancer was contained and hadn’t spread!
“He has thanked me for being stubborn,” Ashley laughs.
He told me he probably wouldn’t have followed through with the colonoscopy if I hadn’t called and reminded him.Ashley
Warren and his wife Kim have already faced difficult life situations—including a close family member’s battle with cancer and the loss of children. Warren’s family is understandably grateful to Ashley for pushing Warren to have the colonoscopy. His recovery after his surgery was slow and tedious, but he is alive today because of Ashley.
Ashley adores Howard and the people who live there. A Midwest girl at heart, Ashley is married to her high school sweetheart, who is also a farmer—and they raise their children in the same town she grew up in. “I practice with the people who treated me when I grew up. Community health serves all patients, and we don’t turn anyone away,” she explains. Patients are neighbors and family—aunts and uncles, fathers and mothers, grandparents—living in her home state.
Ashley knows that if she could practice anywhere, she’d still choose community health. “I see firsthand the results of my treatment. We’re right here on Main Street. We have programs for those with no insurance and low income. All those roadblocks, we break them down so patients have access to the care they need,” Ashley says proudly. If community clinics didn’t exist, she admits people would likely go untreated in small towns. And for Warren, this would have cost him his life.
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Colorectal cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death in South Dakota. But when detected early there is a 91% survival rate.
In our state alone there are more than 430 new cases diagnosed each year. 160 of these team-members do not survive their fight.
Your gift of $66 helps one team-member like Warren receive a life-saving screening!
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