The Pulse | Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Colorectal Cancer: Don’t Assume
For this year’s Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the Colorectal Cancer Alliance’s public awareness campaign slogan is “Don’t Assume.” Many people think they’re too young for colorectal cancer, or if they are diagnosed, they assume they can’t beat it.
Stacie Yarbrough Marion from Ben Taub Hospital in Houston, Texas, stresses the same message as the Colorectal Cancer Alliance and shares with us why it’s so important to get screened as well as how her personal journey led her to switching her career path to gastroenterology and endoscopy.
Can you share what led you to be part of the gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy specialty?
I have a family history of colon cancer and a personal history of tubular adenomas as young as age 23. My registered nurse (RN) position, where I was specializing in ICU and quality management, was being deleted due to a restructuring in our hospital. I had to find a job that I could transfer to and there was a GI Endoscopy Nurse Manager position open. I interviewed for the role and was accepted. That was 10 years ago!
How does your personal and family history of colorectal cancer and tubular adenomas impact how you do your job when it comes to relating to others experiencing similar conditions?
I find myself to be very sympathetic to the families of those whose loved one have just been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. I attempt to educate the families on how important it is for the descendants of the person with colorectal cancer to obtain early screening because of the genetic component related to it.
Was there an “ah-ha” moment when you realized it was time to get into GI endoscopy?
The nursing restructuring pushed me in the direction of GI. What excited me about the specialty was that I was already familiar with it, having had so many colonoscopies in the past, and the staff was a small, close-knit group. I liked the idea of dealing with only one specialty.
What advice would you have for other healthcare professionals who are looking to make the switch to the GI and endoscopy specialty?
GI endoscopy is a small close-knit community. I really appreciate the RNs who are passionate about GI endoscopy. These RNs work to learn everything they can about the specialty, obtain nursing certification through the American Board of Certification for Gastroenterology Nurses, engage the GI technicians to learn alongside of them, and are more passionate with patients and families.
GI is not for everyone, but if it’s something you like, you won’t want to leave the area. You will make a significant positive difference in the lives of patients.