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Local Woman Faces Fears, Finds Life-Saving Help at Community Medical Center

Local Woman Faces Fears, Finds Life-Saving Help at Community Medical Center

When Janice Inkrote was affected by severe stomach pain last July, fear was her biggest enemy. It kept her from seeking help for several weeks, just as it had prevented her from having a recommended colonoscopy years earlier. But when the 51-year-old was referred to Community Medical Center (CMC), an RWJBarnabas Health facility, by CMC attending board-certified gastroenterologist/hepatologist Paul J. DeMartino, M.D., FACG, she found the courage to confront her worries and get the life-saving treatment she needed.

“My brother and father have Crohn’s disease [a chronic bowel condition], so I was afraid I would have it, too,” says the Manchester woman. “I should have had a colonoscopy much sooner because of my family history.”

After about a month of stabbing pain and diarrhea, Janice went to her family doctor, who ordered a series of tests including a colonoscopy. When bloodwork and ultrasound images of her bladder and kidneys came back normal, Dr. DeMartino arranged the colonoscopy immediately.

Taking action

Following the procedure, Dr. DeMartino informed Janice and her husband that a tumor in the sigmoid colon (the part that connects to the rectum) was discovered, requiring surgical resection. Since she was already “prepped,” Dr. DeMartino advised her to be admitted to CMC and undergo surgery as soon as possible since she would not have to undergo another laxative preparation.

“I decided to go for it!” says the wife and mother, who works as a secretary for the Manchester Township Transportation Department. Within hours, Janice was in the operating room undergoing her life-saving surgery.

Janice’s confidence grew even stronger after speaking to her surgeon, Howard Berger, M.D., chairman of CMC’s Department of Surgery.

“He’s a wonderful doctor. Once again, I went for it!”

Dr. Berger removed the large tumor, along with 18 inches of her colon (large intestine). She healed “extremely well,” and was discharged from the hospital within four days of admission.

Preventive therapy

While the cancer had not spread to her lymph nodes, it was considered “stage 2.” Due to Janice’s age and family history, Dr. Berger recommended she see a medical oncologist.

Janice met with Sara McGee, M.D., who recommended chemotherapy. “I was only home 10 minutes when Dr. McGee’s office called,” she notes, “and they scheduled me to come in the next day for a consultation.”

Even during six months of aggressive chemotherapy infusions, the slender patient was able to gain back most of the 30 pounds she had lost during her illness.

“Dr. DeMartino couldn’t believe the difference,” says Janice, recalling how much healthier she looked at a follow-up visit just six weeks after surgery.

“The nurses, doctors and the entire team at CMC were fantastic,” she enthuses. “They were very responsive to my needs. I can’t say enough about how great they were!”

She does have some words of warning, however: “Don’t be afraid. Don’t bury your head in the sand. Get your colonoscopy – it’s not as bad as people think!

“If I hadn’t gotten help when I did,” adds Janice, “who knows how far the cancer would have progressed.”