Misti Lauscher-McDonald is 32 years old, recently married, a loving mother with a son and a daughter. From all indications, a healthy, vital woman. Until she noticed something was wrong.
"I had some blood in my stool and had went in to get it checked out, and the following week had a colonoscopy, and they came in and told us that they had found something, and they were pretty sure it was cancer."
The majority of people diagnosed with colon cancer usually don't experience any symptoms. In Misti's case, her symptoms were on and off for the first two months, before becoming constant the last month.
"I was in complete shock," she told me. "[I thought], oh my God, I have cancer. You know it's kind of hard to come to terms with that."
Colon cancer is in Misti's medical family history. Now she plans to have her children screened starting at age 20, ten years earlier than the discovery of her tumor.
Misti's doctor doesn't believe the cancer has spread to any of her other organs but says he won't know the extent of the damage to her colon until he goes in for the surgery next week.
"She would fall into this category of patients that have a strong family history, but not a definite genetic defect," says Dr. Kirk Ludwig, colon cancer surgeon at Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin. "The real learning point from Misti's case is that when you have symptoms that they should not be ignored."
Misti wants to share her story in hopes that she can help someone else, who is probably as unsuspecting as she was.
"I just want people to know not to ignore things--if there are any problems and you just don't feel that it's right, get it checked out."
A benefit will be held for Misti on Saturday, May 7 at the American Legion in Gladstone. She plans to be there, cancer-free.