By LYNN LOFTON
Seven years ago at age 35, Tina Seymour Demoran of the Gulf Coast was stunned with a diagnoses no one wants to hear — she had colon cancer. Thankfully, she has added cancer survivor to her long list of roles in life, including attorney, real estate broker, respiratory therapist and compliance director.
The latest title added to that list is calendar model. Demoran posed as Mrs. July for this year’s calendar — or colondar — for the Colon Club. In her calendar photo she makes public her jagged vertical abdominal scar all for the sake of doing her part to increase awareness of colon cancer.
“I’m 42 now and I’ve been in remission almost seven years and have eight years to go before I reach the age that most doctors encourage patients to get a colonoscopy; or most insurance companies cover them,” Demoran said.
“I had a family history, yet no one in my family told me about my family history of colon cancer until after I was diagnosed.”
Demoran says there were no symptoms before her diagnoses. “Symptoms for colon cancer usually don’t start until you’re in the later stages,” she said. “I was lucky. I was running, biking and sweating in the full blown heat of a Mississippi summer training for a triathlon, and even after years of training made the rookie mistake of not taking in enough fluids.”
That oversight caused her to lock up with extreme pain that was actually a life-saving blessing in disguise since it sent Demoran to a hospital where physicians discovered tumors.
“They thought I was too young for colon cancer so they hesitated to perform a biopsy on the polyps they found during my colonoscopy,” she recalls.
However, physicians checked everything and biopsy results revealed malignancy. “It just didn’t even register to me that I had cancer,” she says. “I’m a planner, so I got mad and concentrated on getting the tumors out and dealing with recovery and starting my new job. It took months for it to become real that I had cancer.
“Then I worried about it coming back. When I hit the five-year survivor mark, I finally let myself relax for the first time.”
Three weeks after major surgery, Demoran started a new job at Mississippi Children’s Home Services with a drain bag and a stapled abdomen, and her new co-workers were unaware of her condition.
She later underwent several unrelated knee surgeries but didn’t let that stop her either.
“I placed third in my age group in a 5K run and first place in a triathlon last year. I don’t let the naysayers have any major impact on my life goals,” she said.
This tenacious survivor agreed to be a calendar model because she wants to share the message that colon cancer is not an old man’s disease.
“Many of the models in the 2015 colondar were diagnosed in their 20s, and one young lady was diagnosed in her teens with stage three colon cancer,” she said. “For me, as with many others, waiting until I was 50 to have a colonoscopy would have been too late to catch this cancer in its early stages.”
Her goal is to have honest, and sometimes humorous, conversations with adults of all ages about colon cancer and how to be screened. “I’m continually amazed at the misconceptions people have about this preventable but very deadly disease,” she said. “If I get just one person to catch their cancer early, I’ll consider my advocacy a success. Let me tell you, a colonoscopy is a cake walk compared to recovering from major abdominal surgery or chemo, or dealing with a cancer that has spread to other organs in your body. When I hear someone say they just don’t want to go through prepping for or dealing with a colonoscopy, I show them a picture of my scar.”
Demoran stresses that colon cancer is preventable, survivable and treatable if caught in the early stages. “But, you have to be your own advocate and ensure you are getting screened to catch this cancer.”
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