Why you shouldn’t be afraid to get a colonoscopy

Critical examination can save lives

Last month, colon cancer took the lives of Detroit radio personality Jamie Samuelsen and actor Chadwick Boseman.

DETROIT – Last month, colon cancer took the lives of Detroit radio personality Jamie Samuelsen and actor Chadwick Boseman.

Now there’s a new push for people in their 40s to get screened, but fears and concerns about colonoscopies keep some from getting tested.

Hank Winchester got his first colonoscopy to find out what you can expect and to explain why the examination is so critical.

“The test is easy,” Hank said. “Even though I’m in my 40s, I’m glad I got this done now, because my doctor made a concerning discovery.”

Hank decided to get the procedure because of Samuelson, who urged people to get the examination done about a week before he died. What we didn’t know at the time was that this was the last time most of Metro Detroit would hear his voice.

RELATED: 97.1′s Mike Stone talks about his friend and colleague Jamie Samuelsen

Samuelson waged his battle privately but gathered the strength in his final days to warn others.

“Like Jamie, I don’t have a family history,” Hank said. “But like Jamie, I’m in my 40s and have a family. I have a responsibility to make sure I’m healthy.”

A few weeks later, Boseman died. The “Black Panther” star was a real superhero who had been waging a private battle with colon cancer. He was just 43.

Simple, but critical test

The colonoscopy is a simple test, but it’s critical for early detection.

“In 2020, it’s estimated about 150,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with colon cancer,” said Beaumont Health’s Dr. Harry Wasvary. “Of the 54,000 will die from the disease, 18,000 of those will be under the age of 50.”

Before the examination, you begin with preparation -- which is intended to clean you out (so to speak).

“The preparation isn’t painful, it’s just part of the process,” Hank said. “And you will use the bathroom a lot.”

Once at the hospital, Hank had his vitals taken, was given anesthesia and was wheeled into the procedure suite.

Polyp found

During the colonoscopy, a polyp was discovered and sent to the lab for testing. Finding and removing polyps is key. The entire examination takes less than 20 minutes.

“I’m stunned the test that I worried about, that caused me to be anxious hour earlier, was so simple,” Hank said. “No pain. No discomfort.”

Hank said he wants everyone to know how easy it is and how the test could save your life.

“I want you to see how easy this is. I want you to know this test could save your life.”

Early detection could have potentially saved Samuelson and Boseman -- it could save you, too.

RELATED: Video diary: Hank Winchester chronicles colonoscopy experience

RELATED: Paul Gross: My first colonoscopy

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About the Authors:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.