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Joan Pralle

What led me to Northfield Hospital & Clinics

Joan Pralle didn’t want to disappoint her doctor. That may have saved her life.

At each office visit, Dr. Katie Helgen “politely pressed for a colonoscopy,” Joan says. At 75, she was long overdue; colonoscopy is recommended for all adults starting at age 50.

Joan made the appointment three times, but “something always came up,” she says. “The fourth time, I kept the appointment because Dr. Helgen had been so nice about it.”

The test revealed a large tumor in Joan’s colon, the size of her fist. Suddenly, time was crucial to her. “I wanted to schedule surgery and all my follow up appointments right away that day,” Joan recalls.

Two weeks later, general surgeons Chris Nielsen, MD and Katya Ericson, MD performed surgery at Northfield Hospital to remove the tumor. It was pre-cancerous; Joan didn’t require any follow up treatment.

“If I didn’t have that colonoscopy, I might be doing chemotherapy right now,” she says.

“People think they have to feel sick to have something wrong. It’s not true,” Joan adds. “I didn’t feel sick. I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer to have the screening done.” Joan credits her health today to Dr. Helgen’s attention, and kind persistence. “She makes you feel like you’re the only person in her world,” Joan says.;

“Screening for colon cancer with a colonoscopy is so important, but sometimes the procedure can seem intimidating to do,” Dr. Helgen says. “Joan and I worked this through together, and I am so glad everything worked out so well for her.”

Joan’s advice to others feeling skittish about colonoscopy? “You can deal with it if you think positive.”

“The procedure is simple,” Joan says. “The preparation is not fun, but it’s only one day. Plan to spend the day at home doing something you enjoy – read a book, watch a movie. Plan a day just for yourself.”

It just might give you many more days to come.

Learn more about Colonoscopy, Internal Medicine and General Surgery.