Colorectal Cancer Prevention: A Doctor's Advice and a Patient's Perspective Audio Transcript

M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Date: March, 2009
Duration: 0 / 31:41

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Mike Millet:

Topic this morning. We're gonna be meeting with a doctor and also a cancer survivor. We're gonna be talking about colorectal cancer. Maybe not the best topic to bring forth early on a Sunday morning but certainly a needed topic, a needed topic to be discussed and hopefully we'll do a lot of educating this morning and make you folks aware of the risk involved with colorectal cancer, what you maybe able to do to help yourself avoid this disease. Our two guests this morning, Dr. Cathy Eng is a medical oncologist over at M. D. Anderson Hospital and we also have a cancer survivor in studio, her name is Donna Baumer and I asked her just a couple of seconds ago before opening up the microphone, I said, "Donna, is it okay if I just refer to you as a cancer survivor?" She says, "Yeah, I like that title." So without further ado, let's get to our guests. Let's start with you, Dr. Cathy Eng, who's a medical oncologist over at M. D. Anderson. Thanks for coming by, a pleasure meeting you.

Cathy Eng, M.D.:

Thank you for inviting me.

Millet:

You're welcome. Let's -- well, let me find out a little bit about your background. How long have you been at M. D. Anderson?

Dr. Eng:

This is my 7th year there at M. D. Anderson.

Millet:

Okay. I always like to ask when I get doctors in here and I get doctors in here frequently. Do you come from a medical family? I always like to ask where you got the bug to do what you're doing for a living.

Dr. Eng.:

No, actually I'm the first physician in my family. I just became interested in it during high school, during an internship and I really enjoyed my rotation with the surgeon that I was working with.

Millet:

Hmm. Are you from Houston?

Dr. Eng:

I'm not. I'm from Phoenix, Arizona.

Millet:

Okay. You've been in Houston, I guess, 7 years since then. Where did you go to school?

Dr. Eng:

I originally went to a medical school in Philadelphia and then I did all my training in Chicago.

Millet:

Oh, okay. I'm an old Chicago guy but living around here for 40 years but that's where I grew up actually. Great town.

Dr. Eng:

Yes.

Millet:

Dr. Cathy Eng is a medical oncologist. When we are talking about colon cancer, colorectal cancer, put it in more layman terms for us. Tells us -- tell and explain to me and to the audience just what we're talking about please.

Dr. Eng:

Well, colorectal cancer is actually the 3rd most commonly diagnosed cancer amongst men and women but it's also the 2nd leading cause of death of both men and women combined. It's one of the most preventable cancers that we have and it's very important to keep in mind that screening starting at the age of 50 unless you have other inherited risk factors is the standard of care. And unfortunately, a lot of individuals forget that but this actually begins as a benign growth known as a polyp and it takes about 5 to 10 years for that polyp to become cancerous. So that's why it's so important to get the colonoscopy, so those polyps can be removed.

Millet:

And a colonoscopy is not a [laughter] -- it's a procedure that leaves you weak and woozy and the night before you're clearing your system, it's [stuttering] not the most appealing of procedures but it could be a life saver.

Dr. Eng:

It can definitely be life saving. It is -- it can be a difficult procedure in the sense that you do have to clear you bowels the day before but you are anesthetized during the procedure and if it's clean, you don't need another colonoscopy for another 5 to 10 years depending upon what they find. So, it can save your life.

Millet:

And what do you tell the people out there, middle class people that don't have insurance to cover this 'cause they certainly can't afford to get it done?

Dr. Eng:

This is covered by insurance and--

Millet:

Yeah, but for people who don't have insurance, I mean we've got a large segment of America that may not be able to get this test. Is there anything else that they can do to help themselves? What [stuttering] can you do for the millions of middle class people? It's all great to come in here and talk about it but it's out of the reach of many, many, many of our citizens. So what do you tell them?

Dr. Eng:

I would say that unfortunately if they do have to pay out of pocket, it's well worth it. If they're forced to be on that situation, there are some different philanthropic associations throughout the country that do offer screening but you will have to search for those associations in your city or state.

Millet:

Okay, but we have -- do we have some of those in the Houston area?

Dr. Eng:

There are some of those--

Millet:

Great.

Dr. Eng:

-- in the Houston area and obviously, University of Texas is a state-owned -- I mean M. D. Anderson is a state-owned hospital.

Millet:

Hmm

Dr. Eng:

So as long as you fill out the appropriate paper work, it is possible to get screened despite not being covered by insurance.

Millet:

I think that's good to know because like I said, if you have money, if you have insurance, or if you're below the poverty line, all of these things are feasible for you but especially in this economy for a lot of families that have lost their medical insurance, maybe they've lost their jobs. I think it's important to know that there are other resources available.

Dr. Eng:

There are definitely a lot of resources and state-owned hospitals such as M. D. Anderson Cancer Center do provide screening for individuals without insurance as long as you fill out your appropriate paper work in order to get -- to become a patient at M. D. Anderson.

Millet:

What causes colon cancer? What are some of the symptoms?

Dr. Eng:

Some of the symptoms are definitely changes in bowel habits, fatigue, noting darkening in the color of your stool or bright red blood in your stool, abdominal cramping, bloating, change in appetite. In more severe cases, they'll have night sweats where the disease may have spread more than just the colon and it's usually incidentally found when people go to their doctor and say "I'm tired" and it's found that their blood counts are extremely low and then their doctor will then test their stool for blood and notice that there is blood in their stool.

Millet:

When someone develops colon cancer, is it their fault? Is it more their genes? Is it the cheese burgers that we ate when we were teenagers? What -- inform us. Educate us here.

Dr. Eng:

Well, surprisingly a lot of individuals think that colon cancer is hereditary but, in fact, only about 7 percent of colon cancers are truthfully due to hereditary syndromes. The majority, which is about 85 percent, are due to sporadic development of colon cancer. So it can be due to multiple factors. It can be due to your diet. It can be due to just mutations that occur overtime in your body, but the majority are sporadic and that's why it's so important to get screened 'cause the majority of individuals do not have an inherited risk factor.

Millet:

Is this is --

Dr. Eng:

And the average age is 72.

Millet:

72. Is this an equal opportunity cancer, are men as affected as women, are Asians as much as Blacks and Mexicans and Americans and you know, the whole bit, the different races? Does it spread among them all or any group?

Dr. Eng:

Slight -- slightly higher risk in men but relatively equivalent. Unfortunately, African-American, both men and women are -- tend to be diagnosed at a later stage and I think it's also due to a failure of screening and failure of education and awareness. Individuals that come from Asia that live here in the United States are also at increased risk just like breast cancer for women for developing colorectal cancer, their risk increases once they come here. So in part, it probably is due to our dietary habits.

Millet:

We're gonna get to Donna in just a second but I wanna keep it with you Dr. Cathy Eng who's a medical oncologist over at M.D. Anderson Hospital. We're gonna talk to Donna in just a moment who's a survivor of this disease but how fortunate is Donna because I know that this is -- you said that it's the second most -- the second form of -- second most form of cancer that kills people, a deadly [inaudible]--

Dr. Eng:

It's the second leading cause of cancer death amongst both men and women combined.

Millet:

Right. So obviously, Donna, when we get her story from her for the -- straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak, in just a second but obviously she must have been someone who was fortunate enough to catch this early and responded to treatment because if it's causing so many deaths, it's obviously killing a lot of people.

Dr. Eng:

Well, the reality is a little less than 150,000 individuals will be diagnosed in 2008 and a third of these individuals will die from this disease. My understanding is Donna had early stage colon cancer but then developed a recurrence and she's been extremely fortunate to survive this cancer and be caught at a point where it could be dealt with and surgically removed.

Millet:

Okay.

Dr. Eng:

That's not the case for all individuals that develop recurrent disease or once it spread to stage IV metastasized.

Millet:

Our guest, the lady you just heard speak, Dr. Cathy Eng who is a medical oncologist over at M. D. Anderson. We're now gonna meet with a cancer survivor, Donna Baumer is her name and it's very nice to meet you Donna. Thanks for coming in this morning. You -- you probably have a heck of a story here to tell and we're gonna get to it in just a minute but right now as we sit here, you're feeling okay? Everything is looking good?

Donna Baumer:

I'm feeling great. I've been very fortunate. [Clears throat] As Dr. Eng said, I did have an early stage cancer that did recur two years after my original diagnosis and I was fortunate enough to be able to have that tumor resected and had the standard treatments for recurrence and then currently NED which is No Evidence of Disease and I've been that way for two years.

[ Simultaneous Talking ]

Millet:

And you're fantastic

Baumer:

A little over 2 years now.

Millet:

That's -- that's great.

Baumer:

Yes.

Millet:

You know, I think I recall Dr. Eng saying just a minute ago that this condition usually comes on about the average of 72. You're -- you're much younger than that. It probably came as a surprise to you. She described the symptoms and said that doctors usually find this as, you know, somebody who come in and say hey "I'm tired" and their blood counts are gonna be bad. Is that what happened to you? Is that how they found out that you have this? What were your symptoms?

Baumer:

Well, I actually had history of GI problems for about 10 years and it wasn't in -- my cancer was not discovered until I was 55 and unfortunately, I did not do the screening at 50 which is definitely necessary. I believe that if I had had the screening earlier, then my situation might have turned out differently. But at 55, I was beginning to have severe abdominal pains. I had no other symptoms that Dr. Eng described but I did have abdominal pains and that--

Millet:

Was it all the time or after you ate or come and go or--

Baumer:

It was really just maybe twice that that happened and the last time it was so severe I ended up in the hospital.

Millet:

There was something that doubled you over and said we need to take care of this.

Baumer:

Severe, right. Exactly.

[ Simultaneous Talking ]

Millet:

Okay. Alright

Baumer:

Something was definitely going on. While I was in the hospital, a CAT scan was done, just the CAT scan showed a thickening in the colon which then led to the doctors doing a colonoscopy. It was during that colonoscopy that the cancer was discovered and it was less than a week later that I was having surgery.

Millet:

Okay.

Baumer:

It was a whirlwind of an experience and that surgery followed six months of chemotherapy and I thought I was fine for about two years and that's when I had the recurrence. And the tumor fortunately, it was in my liver. I don't know if you can say fortunate and tumor in the same sentence. But fortunately, it was a small tumor and I did chemotherapy before the surgery which shrunk the tumor and had the surgery that was followed by radiation and more chemotherapy and I kinda went on. I'm doing fine, sitting here talking to you toda

Millet:

You know, and [stuttering] you're just -- you're blowing through this. You know, chemotherapy and then I had the surgery and then this -- I mean you have been through hell and back, haven't you?

Baumer:

That's a good way to put.

Millet:

Yeah, I can [stuttering] just imagine. Now, and you are two years cancer free now, correct?

Baumer:

Right, since my liver resection.

Millet:

A quick question for the doctor. At two years cancer free, is Donna out of the woods, so to speak?

Dr. Eng:

Two years is a very good time interval to be disease free but it's very important to follow the patients for up to actually five years. That's when we really consider them to be basically disease free. But chance of recurrence following any surgical resection is highest usually within the first 2 to 3 years.

Millet:

Okay. So now, back to you Donna, I guess you got at least three more years of -- where do you go in every three or four months or something and get things checked out? What's your routine now?

Baumer:

Right now, my routine is to see my oncologist every six months and I see my surgeon every four months and prior to seeing my surgeon, I have a CT scan, chest x-ray just normal lab work and such and if that's fine, then it's another four months and I go through that again.

Millet:

But [stuttering] I bet you when that -- if you got it marked on your calendar and probably for a week or so, I mean I know how I would be, you know, probably a week leading up to this thing, you're, you know.

Millet:

But [stuttering] I bet you when that -- if you got it marked on your calendar and probably for a week or so, I mean I know how I would be, you know, probably a week leading up to this thing, you're, you know.

Millet:

Good.

Baumer:

You know, this is -- you know, I have a life to live and I love life and enjoy everyday and I think actually having cancer made me appreciate that far more than -- than what I did before.

Millet:

Have you made any lifestyle changes?

Baumer:

I exercise more because my doctors just grind it in to me how important exercise is and I hear that pretty much from my medical oncologist as well as my surgeon every time I see them. You need to exercise and if I say I'm walking, they say, "No, you need to do weight training." So I do a little bit of that as well. So yes, I have done that. I'd like to say I've made a lot more dietary changes. I think I'm more aware of what I'm eating but it's easy to fall into some old habits sometimes too. But I think for the most part, I try to eat -- I try to incorporate a lot more good things into my, you know, daily diet and like I said, definitely have ramped up the exercise. So--

Millet:

Well, in getting to know you a little bit before turning on the microphone talking to your husband Greg, I know that you and your husband Greg are proud grandparents of a brand new grandbaby. So yeah, you've gotta keep it going because--

[ Simultaneous Talking ]

Baumer:

We have three actually.

Millet:

Oh, you got three now? Okay.

[ Simultaneous Talking ]

Baumer:

We have three grandchildren.

Millet:

So that wasn't your first one. Okay.

Baumer:

She's the third.

Millet:

You've got three grandkids to spoil.

Baumer:

Yes, absolutely

Millet:

So, your hoping that you're gonna be around and with us for a long, long time. Where did you go through? Dr. Eng is from M.D. Anderson. Where did you go through your cancer treatments and such?

Baumer:

My initial cancer diagnosis was done in the Clear Lake area which is where I live and I was seeing a doctor there and had surgery there. When I had the recurrence though, I decided I wanted to be a patient at M. D. Anderson. So that's why I've, at that time, decided to pursue becoming a patient and after a few weeks was seeing a surgeon and a plan was laid out and I've been at M. D. Anderson ever since.

Millet:

Having never had any form of cancer, I wanted to ask you about the chemotherapy. Is it all that they say that it is? I mean do you lose your hair? Do you feel sick? Are you nauseated? Are you vomiting? Did unfortunately have to through some of those symptoms?

Baumer:

I think and Dr. Eng can probably speak to this better than I, but I think that chemotherapy is different for everybody. It's not going to be the same for every patient. For me and I hate to admit this, but I think it was somewhat of a breeze. It wasn't--

Millet:

No, you don't have to hate to admit that. You were fortunate. That's [simultaneous talking] -- that's a good thing.

Baumer:

I was very - I was very lucky.

Millet:

Yeah

Baumer:

I was never sick. I mean there were days that I didn't feel well and chemotherapy leaves you a little bit tired the first few days after you have it. So there were a lot of weekends that, you know, were spent just kinda laying around and doing nothing but for the most part, I worked all through it. I worked through both of my chemotherapy, well actually, all three times I went to chemotherapy I worked. Also--

Millet:

Well, you're a trooper.

Baumer:

Well, I try to be.

Millet:

Yeah.

Baumer:

Also, through my radiation I worked and radiation to me was harder than the chemotherapy, not that it made me sick. Again, I was very lucky but radiation is exhausting and we had -- I had radiation at M.D. Anderson which is in Houston so that was a good 35, 40-minute ride into the medical center, 5 days a week for 6 weeks and I would get up at a little before 5 every morning, head to the medical center. Thank goodness for my rock sitting over here because he drove me in so fortunately we could use the HOV which saves a little bit of time. But we drove in, had the radiation which is very fast. It's a 5 to 10-minute process. Drove back to Clear Lake and changed clothes and went to work for 8 hours. You know, came home, pretty much at 8 went to bed and start the [simultaneous talking] process all over again. Yeah.

Millet:

Yeah, did it all over the next day and you say that went on for 6 weeks?

Baumer:

Six weeks.

Millet:

And when you say radiation was exhausting, you just explained the process, you know, 10 minutes and you're out of there. It was the after effects of it that left you exhausted?

Baumer:

It's the effects of radiation that leave you exhausted. It's -- and I'm not sure exactly how to explain that but it's -- and it's accumulative effect. It doesn't start out that you get radiation and you're suddenly tired. It just -- it goes on because towards the end of the radiation, I remember thinking that, "Boy, if there was a pill I could take to get some energy." We were getting ready to travel and I just desperately wanted something. When I called the doctor at M. D. Anderson, he said there's just really nothing that we can give you. So I went on vacation anyway and just rested a lot but still had a great time.

Millet:

And you're in the Clear Lake area. I have to ask you. I got some good friends in Clear Lake and they were out of power a long time from Ike. How did you all -- how did you all -- how did you and your family come through Ike.

Baumer:

We were actually very lucky. We had -- we left the Clear Lake area since we were in a mandatory evacuation

Millet:

Right.

Baumer:

But we came back to just a lot of trees -- tree limbs down more than anything. We have a lot of pine tress [simultaneous talking].

Millet:

And you're probably without power for a week or two, huh?

Baumer:

Not even a week.

Millet:

Oh, good for you.

[ Simultaneous Talking ]

Baumer:

We had power back Tuesday.

Millet:

Oh my goodness, you were -- were one of the lucky ones.

Baumer:

We came back [inaudible] on Monday, right. We were very lucky.

Millet:

Because my friends out in Clear Lake, they were -- it was a good 2 weeks. Well no, not quite that long, maybe a week before they got it back.

Baumer:

Yeah. We were very lucky and I chose not to complain at all during that period when I was finally able to see some news and what others were going through. We were very fortunate.

Millet:

Donna, we'll get back to you a little bit later in the show. We thank you so much for sharing your -- your story with us.

[ Simultaneous Talking ]

Baumer:

Sure, my pleasure.

Millet:

I know that wasn't an easy thing for you to do but at the same time, you're sitting here, you're smiling, having a good time and [stuttering] that's certainly a good thing too.

Baumer:

Anything we can do to get the word out to get screened, I think that's really the important message here, is to make sure that people get screened and listen to their body.

Millet:

Our cancer survivor this morning, Donna Baumer. We're gonna get back to our medical oncologist Dr. Cathy Eng right now and Dr. Eng works over at M. D. Anderson Hospital. So when we're talking about Donna's family, you pretty much answered the question earlier about hereditary because I know with some forms of cancer, at least it seems that there's some kind of genetic links in there or there maybe some hereditary links but as far as her children and her grand children go, because she contracted this disease doesn't necessarily mean that her children or grandchildren are at higher risk?

Dr. Eng:

They are at slightly higher risk

Millet:

Slightly higher risk, okay.

Dr. Eng:

But it's not as high as if she has a inherited familial syndrome. Her children should be screened 10 years earlier than her diagnosis. So instead of being screened at 50, they'd be screened at 45 or their early 40's since she was diagnosed at 55.

Millet:

Okay. What -- do you know how much -- what is the Colon Cancer Alliance? Because I know that there was a conference in Houston earlier this month, unfortunately we couldn't get you all in to do the show before the conference but you were at the conference? Can you tell us a little bit about the conference that was held earlier this month?

Dr. Eng:

Actually, probably Donna can elaborate a little bit more since she's also representing them. But yes, I actually spoke at the symposium this weekend. It's really -- it was a conversation about cancer.

Basically, it had caregivers and patients present and we had three experts in the medical field, one of the surgeons, myself as the medical oncologist and one of the interventional radiologists basically provide some updates regarding advances in colon cancer, colorectal cancer and then we were -- we had a one hour session afterwards regarding any question the audience may have and they also had some workshops afterwards that were very nice, separating the caregivers from the actual patients and really allowing them to identify with each other and get more information.

Millet:

As a medical oncologist, exactly what do you do? Are you in the lab? Are you seeing patients? Are you a part of the surgery? What [stuttering] does the medical oncologist mean, doctor?

Dr. Eng:

So -- because M. D. Anderson is an academic institution, I do conduct clinical research. I see patients twice a week, two full day clinics. I conduct clinical research and a lot of my research involves novel chemotherapy. So, I provide chemotherapy to patients.

[ Simultaneous Talking ]

Millet:

What kind of -- what kind of chemotherapy?

Dr. Eng:

New -- either new drugs--

Millet:

New, okay.

Dr. Eng:

--or as part of clinical trials or standard of care of clinical trials aren't appropriate for the patient or if we don't have a clinical trial available.

Millet:

When -- when a cure for cancer is eventually found and hopefully it will, will this -- we talked about just a question right of the wall for you here. Is that magic pill, that magic bullet gonna be able to cure 'em all or is cancer -- is it gonna be -- we're gonna find out what causes breast cancer and then we're gonna find out what causes lung cancer and how to prevent it and such. How does the future look 'cause I don't think I'm gonna be fortunately or unfortunately live long enough to see a cure for cancer?

Dr. Eng:

I don't think it's gonna be one magic bullet as you put it. What we're learning right now is that there are specific characteristics of the patient's tumor that actually can help guide us to -- help guide us and direct our therapy at least in colon cancer and we're also finding that in other malignancies. So every individual, you really need to look at each patient as an individual and the field is advancing in regards to what their tumor biology is and what are the different mutations that are in the patient and there are various pathways that are involved in cancer development and some are up regulated in some patient and some are down regulated. Every cancer patient is an individual and that's what I think -- that's where I think the field is going.

Millet:

I've got an interview coming up in a couple of weeks with a gentleman I know well. His name is Jim Sak and he's on the Board of Directors for the Alzheimer's Foundation. And I know that Jim has been outspoken in the past by saying that maybe with some kind of stem cell research areas along that line, we may be able to come up and have better medications, if not a cure for Alzheimer's. So I'll put that same question to you. The Bush administration is on the way out, the Obama administration is on the way in and I think one of differences between these two administrations is the way they look at stem cell research. If you would care to just give us your own opinion on where you stand on it and how it may or may not help patients such as Donna?

Dr. Eng:

Stem cell research at least in colorectal cancer is still early in development but it's definitely another avenue that needs to be investigated and I would fully support that that be conducted.

Millet:

Good.

Dr. Eng:

And I hope additional research will go -- research funds will go towards that because I think if we can find another answer to why people develop cancer over time, that would -- that can only help our patients.

Dr. Eng:

Let's get back to our survivor now, Donna -- Donna Baumer, our cancer survivor. The Colon Cancer Alliance, you heard Dr. Eng talk a little bit about it, said that you'd probably be a little bit better, even telling as what's that's all about. Take it from there please.

Baumer:

Okay, the Colon Cancer Alliance is a national organization and its primary goal is to help patients and caregivers with questions that they might have. It's kind of an online support group, if you will, where they manage a list-serv where people can just write in question. And the nice thing about the Colon Cancer Alliance is you're connecting with people who are just like you and they have the same issues you have, they have the same concerns you have and you can share your stories. They're not medical people at all and we promote that quite a bit. This is not a medical advice organization. It's just a way to get support because when you have -- when somebody says to you, you have cancer, no matter how many people you have around you, it still is an isolating disease. So it's nice to be able to connect with people who experience what you are and that's one of its main purposes. They also have a website where patients and caregivers can go on and set up a web page. It's called mycrcconnections. It's a great way to connect with other people. There's blogs you can do there, tons of things you can do to, again, share information. The Colon Cancer Alliance also has a buddy program which is -- which is really beneficial to newly diagnosed patients because they don't know where to go. They see this, they can join the buddy program and they can be connected with somebody who is just like them and they -- the buddy program coordinator tries to match people with, you know, similar stage and time [simultaneous talking] and such.

Millet:

Have you been a buddy?

Baumer:

I have been a buddy receiver and now I'm a buddy giver. So yes, that's good.

Millet:

I got a question for you. You referred to your husband Greg as your rock and I'm sure other members of your family were right there with you when you were going through this very trying experience but based on what you just said about the alliance, despite their best efforts and despite their understanding and love, when you finally met somebody from the Cancer Alliance as your friend and maybe this person had gone through, was that almost kind of a relief and they just became a part of your extended family there and -- but at the same time you finally were able to discuss this with somebody who had been through it and despite the best efforts of your family, they're not really going through it. They're supporting you and they're loving you. So, you know what I'm getting at here and if you can address that please?

Baumer:

Well, it definitely is an extension of your family because these people just understand. They understand in a way that your family and friends can't and your family and friends are wonderful. You know, I had a wonderful support system through work, still do, through where I used to work and through my family and through my, you know, children and step-children and my husband and close friends, but people who have cancer just have a different perspective of what you're going through. I mean my husband could see she's upset but maybe didn't know what to say or how to, you know, how to handle the situation whereas I think with somebody who's experienced the same thing you are, you can be a little more open and they can be a little more open with you. So I think, you know, for that reason, it's important and a great thing to be able to have an organization such as the Colon Cancer Alliance.

Millet:

Maybe we have a caregiver out there this morning listening. Maybe we have somebody who unfortunately has recently been diagnosed with the disease. What do you tell them right now as -- just imagine that there' somebody listening right now who is maybe going through some of the early stages of what you have already been through. What do you tell them? What words of encouragement, if any, can you give them?

Baumer:

Well, I think the one thing that they need to not do is not to give up hope because I think there's -- I mean every situation is going to be different and -- but there's always hope and I think it's important to try to think positively and I know that's not always easy to do. It wasn't easy for me.

Millet:

No, no, it wouldn't be at all.

Baumer:

I mean not at all. The first thing you wanna do is go home and get into bed and pull the covers up over your head and stay there for days.

Millet:

Ask yourself that "why me" question always, oh yeah.

Baumer:

Ask yourself that "why me" question.

Millet:

Sure, Sure.

Baumer:

And it's -- and it's not so bad to do that for a day or so because you deserve that. But on the other hand, then you need to kinda brush yourself off and jump out of bed and say, "How am I going to fight this and what am I going to do?" Arm yourself with as much information as you can. Talk to your doctor openly. Find a doctor that you are comfortable with, that you feel comfortable talking to and that you feel that you're getting good care from and if you don't, then seek another opinion because I think that's important too. But just get information, the Colon Cancer Alliance is a great place to get information. That was the first place I went to.

Millet:

And what was that website again?

Baumer:

It's ccalliance.org.

Millet:

Okay, dot org folks, nonprofit organization. Donna, thank you so much. You've been very open and honest with us here this morning

Baumer:

Your welcome.

Millet:

And thank you very much for offering these words of hope and encouragement and let's hope that you can stay cancer-free for a long time. You got those grandbabies to spoil.

Baumer:

That's my goal.

Millet:

Yeah, great. Donna, thank you. Donna Baumer, our guest. Back to Dr. Cathy Eng who is our medical oncologist. Now, are you like in the phone book? Can people call you if they got any kind of issues or problems or do they through M. D. Anderson? How does all that work?

Dr. Eng:

They can go through M. D. Anderson. That's probably the most appropriate way to get in as a patient to be seen. Obviously, each patient's gonna be different so they may not need to see a medical oncologist first. So I would recommend going to M. D. Anderson. You can call 1-877-MDA-6789.

Millet:

One more -- give that one more time.

Dr. Eng:

1-877-MDA-6789

Millet:

Okay. And if people want to know more about you and such, I'm sure you're on the website as one of their oncologist staff and--

Dr. Eng:

Correct.

Millet:

And you see your patients there at the hospital or do you have an office or?

Dr. Eng:

I have a clinic at the hospital.

Millet:

Okay.

Dr. Eng:

And I'm there twice a week.

Millet:

Okay.

Dr. Eng:

And I'm happy to see any patient that needs our medical assistance as a medical oncologist.

Millet:

Right. I hope to your picture on the front page of the Chronicle someday and there's some big breakthrough at M. D. Anderson and I'll go, "I know that doctor." Let's [stuttering] hope that that's in all of our futures, okay? You've been a great sport too. Thanks for coming in.

Dr. Eng:

Thank you.

Millet:

And educating our audience this morning and urging them to get that colonoscopy 'cause that's the first line of defense, isn't it?

Dr. Eng:

I -- definitely. I want to remind everyone that March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and that's when you should definitely bring some recognition that it's time to get screened for colorectal cancer at the age of 50. Unless you have any inherited risk factors, you should be screened earlier and obviously, if you're having symptoms you should be screened earlier. And I would like to mention very briefly we do have a 5K Race at M. D. Anderson to promote colorectal cancer awareness which I created and chair with my colleague Kimberly Tripp and that will be on March 28, 2009 and it's called the SCOPE Race which stands for Sprint for Colorectal Oncology prevention and Education.

Millet:

Well, why don't you have -- I'll give you one of my cards before you leave. Get a hold of me around the first of March or have the people at M. D. Anderson get a hold of me. We'll have you back in. We'll plug the walk again and then make people even more aware in March of what's going on, okay?

Dr. Eng:

That would be great.

Millet:

Alright. Thank you, doctor. Dr. Cathy Eng, our guest, she's the medical oncologist over at M. D. Anderson and the lady who spoke earlier, Donna Baumer, our cancer survivor. I'm your host Mike Millet thank you for listening. Hopefully, you learned something this morning. You never know when you can save a life or at least help a caregiver or help one of the patients and I hope that's what we've accomplished this morning. Again, thank you for listening and here's hoping the rest of your Sunday is a good one.

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