Gena Pavey - Colon Cancer Patient
Gena Pavey, 44, calls herself the poster child for Colorectal Cancer awareness. In March 2010, she had a preventative colonoscopy, a screening that probes the colon with an endoscopic camera looking for cancer. Though she had no symptoms, her father's diagnosis with colon cancer at age 50 impelled her to get checked.
"After my colonoscopy, I just wanted to get a pat on the back for being proactive," she said.
Unfortunately, the prognosis was not what she expected. The doctors found a tumor, with the subsequent biopsy confirming a cancer diagnosis. Pavey was in disbelief. That day, March 16, 2010, she threw on a bikini and hit the beach. She knew a colostomy bag would prevent her from wearing a bikini again. So, she soaked in the sun and jumped in the ocean for a swim. The water made her feel so alive.
"I'm healthy," she thought. "This has to be a mistake."
She had no digestion problems or irregular bowel movements. She was high energy—working nights at a pharmaceutical warehouse for the last 15 years and spending her days acting, writing and producing TV and film. This tumor was silent. Pavey sought out second, third and fourth opinions. Friends recommended Dr. Zuri Akida Murrell, Director of the Colorectal Cancer Center at Cedars Sinai.
And she did. After the surgery, Dr. Murrell came in to tell her, he got it all. And she didn't have to undergo preventative chemotherapy. She was emotional. He saved her life.
Today, she realizes that when you beat cancer, your life changes forever. You have a new birthday, the day of your surgery. On the year anniversary of living cancer-free, she returned to the beach to release all of her pain and fears attached to the cancer. This year marks her second anniversary of being cancer-free. Her advice to folks who have family history, go get checked. Don't wait for symptoms, by then it will have spread. This is one of the most curable cancers.
"I consider myself one of the luckiest ones," she said. But don't call her a cancer survivor. She prefers to be called a warrior, because she didn't just survive cancer. Pavey beat cancer.