March 22, 2023 – As the healthcare community recognizes March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a 37-year-old Florida doctor who thought she was in perfect health today is living proof colon cancer can strike those who least suspect it and in ways most never imagined.
It was August 2022 when, seemingly out of nowhere, Dr. Lauren Juyia of Palm Harbor first noticed the feel of bulging masses when she pressed on her pelvis.
“It felt the same as a 16-week pregnancy,” she recalls while relying on her knowledge as a physician board certified in obstetrics and gynecology.
An exam at HCA Florida Oak Hill Hospital in Brooksville detected ovarian masses up to 24 centimeters in size. Surgery at HCA Florida Trinity Hospital quickly ensued where doctors removed the masses for evaluation in post-operative pathology.
That’s when the news broke that no one expected. The young mother of two had colon cancer, another stark reminder the disease can strike those in their younger years.
“I’m the lowest-risk person you could imagine,” she says. “I’m active, a non-smoker and a lifelong vegetarian with no family history of colorectal cancer. You can imagine my shock when I heard the news.”
Fewer than five percent of colon cancers metastasize to the ovaries. In most cases, colorectal cancer cells can break away from the original tumor and travel through the blood to the liver.
With little time to waste, Lauren began five-hour outpatient infusions every other week for 12 weeks. Midway into her 12 rounds of chemotherapy, tests revealed no evidence of colon cancer with the exception of an inactive, 1.2-centimeter tumor. She joined smiling doctors and nurses to ring her end-of-treatment bell on Monday, March 13.
At the end of March, she’ll undergo surgery to have the inactive tumor removed.
Now with a chance to reflect on her emotional journey, Lauren’s message is clear.
“Any symptoms that persist for more than two weeks should be checked out by your doctor,” she says. “Recognize the opportunity to get screened for anything that’s recommended. Don’t squander that opportunity and most of all, be aware.”
HCA Florida Healthcare operates several gastroenterology centers in Florida where doctors focus on the treatment of diseases of the digestive system.
Screening is considered a free preventive measure under most insurance providers and is typically covered at no cost to the patient.
To learn about colorectal cancer and the importance of preventive screenings, go to https://www.hcafloridahealthcare.com/screenings.
About HCA Florida Healthcare
HCA Florida Healthcare, a part of HCA Healthcare, is a family of more than 570 affiliated sites of care, including hospitals, physician practices and freestanding emergency rooms. United as a statewide network in 2021, HCA Florida Healthcare includes approximately 11,000 experienced doctors and 77,000 colleagues working together to deliver advanced, collaborative care to more than 7.4 million patients each year. HCA Florida Healthcare is committed to improving more lives in more ways and giving back to the communities it serves. The network provided nearly $836.6 million in uncompensated care and invested significantly in innovative technologies and facilities across Florida, including the new $360 million state-of-the-art, multi-specialty HCA Florida University Hospital in Davie, Fla. A strong advocate for the next generation of healthcare professionals, HCA Florida Healthcare is also a major supporter of university-based healthcare programs and residencies and fellowships throughout the Sunshine State. For more information, please visit HCAFloridaHealthcare.com.
About HCA Florida Oak Hill Hospital and HCA Florida Trinity Hospital
HCA Florida Oak Hill Hospital has been serving the Nature Coast since 1984 and is the largest private employer and largest hospital in Hernando County, with 350 beds. The facility offers Hernando County’s only heart surgery program. Other key services include the maternity suites, neonatal intensive care, women’s imaging, cancer care, orthopedics and spine services. HCA Florida Trinity Hospital is a 340-bed, full-service acute care hospital that proudly provides inpatient and outpatient services for Trinity and surrounding communities. Key services include 24/7 emergency care, obstetrics including NICU and maternal fetal medicine, advanced surgical oncology, spine and orthopedics, minimally invasive surgical specialties, and women’s imaging center with comprehensive breast care.