Seventy-three-year-old John Werries put off getting a baseline colonoscopy for years, even declining the simple colorectal cancer screening kits his wife offered to obtain for him during the screening kit giveaway events presented annually by Passavant Area Hospital.
At his wife, Ruthie’s, insistence John finally relented and completed a colorectal cancer screening kit, which Ruthie picked up for him at a screening kit giveaway event in 2019. His test came back positive for blood in the stool. Ruthie immediately scheduled a colonoscopy for John.
Following a series of appointments at Passavant for scans and consultation, John underwent surgery to remove a section of his large intestine. His cancer was caught early, which made a significant difference in how quickly he was able to complete treatment and return to his active life.
Passavant Area Hospital, along with the four other hospitals in Memorial Health System, will once again offer colon cancer kits at drive-through giveaways from late July through mid-August.
People picking up the kits from the nonprofit hospitals should remain in their vehicles and wear masks. They can complete the screenings in their homes and mail the kits back to the hospitals.
Staff will wear personal protective equipment during the distribution. The kits will be available while supplies last.
The times and dates at each hospital are:
Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital: 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Aug. 5, 200 Stahlhut Drive, 217-605-5008.
Decatur Memorial Hospital: 8 to 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 14, 210 W. McKinley Drive, 217-876-4750.
Memorial Medical Center: 10 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, July 28, Senior Services of Central Illinois, Door No. 2, 701 W. Mason St., Springfield. Call Barb Hipsher at 217-528-4035 to reserve your test kit.
Passavant Area Hospital: 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6, and 9 to 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 7, circle drive at the main entrance, 1600 W. Walnut St., Jacksonville, 217-479-5800.
Taylorville Memorial Hospital: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14, drive up to the hospital’s Main Lobby at 201 E. Pleasant St., 217-707-5272.
Rick factors for colon cancer include being age 50 or older, having a family history of colon cancer, heavy alcohol use, being overweight or a smoker.
The screening kits do not substitute for a colonoscopy, the best method to detect colorectal cancer. Regularly scheduled screenings in the form of colonoscopies can prevent cancer from developing if precancerous polyps are detected and removed before they become cancer. Regular screenings can also find cancer in its earliest stages when it can be treated.
For John Werries, who had his colon cancer surgery on his 72nd birthday, stubbornness kept him from getting a colonoscopy.
“Yes, I should have been getting the colonoscopies and doing the screening, but I don’t like to go to the doctor or to the hospital. I just didn’t want to do it,” said the Morgan County corn and soybean producer.
An avid pilot, John flies a Cessna 182 four-seat plane and meets with a group of fellow pilots at Jacksonville Municipal Airport each week. He’s become an advocate for getting a colonoscopy.
“They all know my story. I can’t say I pointed a finger at each of them and said, ‘You need to be tested,’ but they know my story,” Werries said.