Terre Haute Living January/February 2019 - Page 41

Since beating cancer she’s now made it her mission to help others. According to a study led by the American Cancer Society, new cases of colon cancer and rectal cancer are occurring at an increasing rate among young and middle-aged adults. Being diagnosed at a young age and having no link to the disease after genetic testing, Hecklinski is speaking out to ensure others might avoid what she went through. While living in Michigan for her husband’s football coaching job with the University of Michigan, Hecklinski says she experienced pain in her abdomen until she couldn’t stand it any longer. “I went to the doctor with pain, but they said, ‘You may have pulled a muscle or maybe it’s a kidney stone.’ Well one night the pain was so bad I couldn’t stand up so I put my kids to bed and drove myself to the emergency room. They told me it was kidney stone … and the did a CT scan and that is when they saw the tumor, so they took me into emergency surgery and had the tumor, 23 lymph nodes and a couple feet of my colon removed.” After chemo and radiation, Hecklinski, who has three children with husband Jeff, made it her mission to advocate for early detection and colo- noscopies. Many of the preventative procedures can be performed by Dr. Sharma and the staff at Digestive Health Associates. “I know getting a colonoscopy is uncom- fortable and I know people are intimidated and literally scared of them but they are making it so much easier now to get them and make it less scary and intimidating,” she explains. “Sure, it’s going to be invasive, but I can tell you all of that is so much better than what I went through and what my family went through. To look at it through that perspective and losing a whole year of your life and possibly losing your life is nothing compared to a colonoscopy that is going to take less than 24 hours of your life.” Hecklinski is emotional when talking about what her family and children went through during her health journey. She also notes her husband’s uncle who recently passed away from the same disease. With many links to colon cancer, but little scientific explanations to why it’s touched her family, she says her purpose is to use her knowledge and experience to prevent the same thing happening to other families. “The message that I want out there is that if it can happen to me it can happen to anyone,” she says. “You know your body better than anyone, you have to be your own health advocate; if something is wrong you have to keep pressing. And take the steps that are available to screen and prevent.” Designers: Gary Nees & Sandi Layman For Free Estimates Call 812-232-2526 Visit us on our Facebook page for more info Baby it’s cold outside! Get your warm alpaca blend yarn and outerwear. Available in 3 weights DK, Bulky and Sportweight. LindenLeafGifts.com Hours: Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. tribstar.com/terrehauteliving 812-535-2947 January/February 2019 • Terre Haute Living 41