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PATIENTS & FAMILIES

  • Vicki Barrilleaux, Texas


    With no known family history, Vicki Barrilleaux was diagnosed with stage III colorectal cancer at the age of 47. Since her treatment, Vicki has been a megaphone to the message of early detection, teaming with the Colon Cancer Alliance, the American Cancer Society’s Colleges Against Cancer (Vicki is the staff advisor for Sam Houston State University), and the Access to Medical Imaging Coalition to remind everyone she can that a simple colonoscopy or virtual colonoscopy can save dozens of medical procedures down the road – medical procedures needed if you’re one of the nearly 150,000 new cases of colon cancer diagnosed in the U.S. each year.

    “Scans are such a good tool to diagnose colon cancer and a host of other diseases early and accurately,” said Vicki. “We have to make it easier for people to get the right scan when they need it, not more difficult.”

    “There aren’t many cancers or diseases you can stop before they start. With colon cancer, we’re lucky. Colonoscopies can detect polyps before they turn into cancer. We’ve just got to make sure everybody knows that and gets screened.”

    Unfortunately, we know that colon cancer remains a deadly disease with just over 60% of Americans getting screened who are recommended to do so. While this disease is detectible and 90% treatable when found early, too few are accessing the proven available tests. Tragically, in 2004, Vicki’s sister was diagnosed with Stage IV colorectal cancer and died months later. Today Vicki continues to share her sister’s story along with her own to encourage others to get screened early.

    Vicki and her colleagues at Sam Houston State University celebrate Wear Blue for Colon Cancer Awareness month.

    Vicki and her colleagues at Sam Houston State University celebrate Wear Blue for Colon Cancer Awareness month.


    Recently, eight years after treatment, Vicki again experienced the critical value of medical imaging after a renal ultrasound showed that Vicki had a blocked kidney. But Vicki had no noticeable symptoms. “Who knows how many more tests and procedures I would have gone through if I hadn’t had that scan?” she asked. “Leaving that doctor’s office knowing with certainty exactly what I had allowed me to plot an informed treatment quickly and saved my family and me so much needless anxiety.”

    Read more about Vicki’s efforts to ensure continued access to the right scan at the right time in The Huntsville Item.

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