Yarmouth colon cancer survivor steps out of her comfort zone to encourage screenings

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YARMOUTH — A reserved and private woman who doesn’t like to talk about cancer is one of six Maine residents promoting the importance of early detection in a statewide colon cancer awareness campaign.

The ScreenME! campaign launched Nov. 15 to encourage colon cancer screening is made possible through an initiative of the Maine Colorectal Cancer Control Program, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Department of Health and Human Services. Each person in the campaign has their own story, and each represents a different reason to get screened.

Judie MacCormack of Rogers Road said before she experienced painful stomach cramps in December 2006 she never thought about colon cancer or having a colonoscopy.

“Had I gone to get a colonoscopy sooner none of this would have happened,” she said. “It would have been picked up before it was this far along.”

By the time MacCormack contacted a doctor and set up an appointment to address her cramps, she had a tumor in her colon the size of a grapefruit and the cancer had spread to her ovaries.

Surgery removed the tumor and chemotherapy kept it at bay for a while, but soon it spread to her brain, she said. After another surgery to remove the brain tumor, and radiation therapy, MacCormack has been cancer free since 2008.

“This all happened because I let it go too long,” she said.

MacCormack said besides the occasional flu or cold, the only time she previously spent in the hospital was to give birth to her daughter. She spent four years in the U.S. Marine Corps and worked at Unum for nearly 14 years. She is a strong woman, who only reluctantly agreed to share her personal battle.

“I don’t like to talk about my experience, or cancer at all,” she said. “I am sick of it.”

But, she said if someone who sees her commercial or reads about her story gets a check-up, it will be worth it.

“Once I got a colonoscopy, I realized it was not bad at all. It’s a lot better than surgery, radiation and chemotherapy,” she said.

Colon cancer is on the rise in Maine she said, and a screening is not as scary as facing treatment.

“Even though I am cancer free,” she said, “the emotional and mental battle can do a number on you.”

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net

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Judie MacCormack of Yarmouth is one of six Maine residents promoting colon cancer awareness and the importance of early screenings in a campaign made possible by an initiative of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Department of Health and Human Services. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in Maine.

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