Cleveland Heights Woman Fights Colon Cancer and WINS

Kate Lloyd at home

Kate Lloyd was an active, healthy 79 year old when she was diagnosed with early stage colon cancer. Although she did have a family history of the disease – her mother was diagnosed with rectal cancer at age 84 – Kate was not experiencing any symptoms and a colonoscopy done 15 years earlier had not revealed any trace of disease.

But one day, at home, she saw traces of blood in her stool. 

Kate immediately called her doctor and was referred to gastroenterologist, Linda Cummings, MD who ordered a diagnostic colonoscopy, which was performed on November 21, 2016. The colonoscopy confirmed Kate had colon cancer but it was at a very early and treatable stage of development.

UH colorectal surgeon, Emily Steinhagen, MD performed Kate’s surgery on January 11, 2017 and was able to remove all the cancer. “Dr. Steinhagen was a wonderful surgeon and I came out of surgery with very little discomfort except for a sluggish gut for a few days,” says Kate. She was discharged to home after just a few days in the hospital.

Although Kate’s surgery was successful, she did require an ileostomy to allow her colon time to heal. An ileostomy is a surgical procedure that creates an opening in the abdominal wall through which the lowest part of the small intestine is passed and attached to a small external pouch. The pouch collects digestive waste (stool) and can be left in place either permanently or temporarily. In Kate’s case, the ileostomy was temporary and was removed in March 2017.

Because Kate’s cancer was found early, surgery was the only treatment she needed. Although, initially, she was scheduled to undergo radiation therapy as a follow-up, her oncologist, Joel Saltzman, MD, decided it wasn’t necessary after all. “Dr. Saltzman is my hero,” she says. “He said I didn’t need radiation or chemotherapy which was a relief.”

Since her surgery, Kate has had follow-up procedures to ensure she remains cancer-free, including a colonoscopy in early 2018 and an abdominal/pelvic CT in March 2019. All results have come back negative and life has pretty much returned to normal for her and David, her husband of 59 years. She will have another follow-up colonoscopy in three years, just to make sure everything is still okay but Kate and her doctors are optimistic that her cancer is gone. 

“My experience with UH was great,” says Kate. “The nurses were all very helpful, especially the ostomy nurse who taught me and my husband how to care for my stoma. I’m so happy with the outcome that I have been telling my story to anyone who will listen.”