Lisa Stalla of Evergreen Park is a devoted mother of five, loving grandmother of three, and enjoys going to work in North Riverside as the assistant principal for a well-known elementary school. Lisa also is a cancer fighter and survivor. In May of 2008, Lisa was diagnosed with Stage-1 breast cancer. After going through a double lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation at Little Company of Mary Hospital, Lisa was declared cancer-free in October of 2008 and officially graduated to a cancer survivor in 2013. At her five-year cancer-free milestone, her brief cancer-free status quickly came to an end in 2014, when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. She then turned to the team of experts at Little Company of Mary to fight and beat cancer once again.
In the summer of 2014, Lisa had not been feeling like herself. In addition, her sister was just recently diagnosed with colon cancer. During one of Lisa’s follow up appointments with Little Company of Mary’s hematologist/oncologist, Dr. Jayanthi Ramadurai, Lisa had mentioned her sister’s newest diagnosis. Due to the direct family colon cancer link, Dr. Ramadurai ordered a CT scan of her abdomen; this showed a mass at the beginning portion of her colon. A colonoscopy confirmed the presence of the mass, and the biopsy later showed it was cancerous. Lisa’s worst nightmare came true; she was once again affected by cancer. However, this time it was in her colon. Dr. Ramadurai referred Lisa to Dr. Michael G. Hurtuk, Little Company of Mary Medical Group, fellowship-trained colon and rectal surgeon, who is one of the only practicing colorectal surgeons in Chicago’s Southland area.
Dr. Hurtuk immediately met with Lisa and reassured her that she was going to once again uphold the title cancer survivor. Lisa shared her fear of losing her colon and having to have a colostomy bag; a small pouch, or bag that is placed over the stoma to collect bowel waste that would normally pass through a person in the bathroom.
Shortly after Lisa’s diagnosis, Lisa underwent a right hemicolectomy; the complete removal of the right side of her colon including its blood supply and lymph nodes. This was necessary in order to remove her cancerous tumor.
“Lisa’s operation was a success and we were able to save her remaining colon, thus not requiring her to have a colostomy bag,” said Dr. Hurtuk. “Her surgery took less than two hours and we were able to remove the cancer entirely. We tested her tumor and tailored her treatment to fit her.” After undergoing surgery, Lisa was able to eat without any restrictions just three days post-operation and was back to work in just four weeks. “Dr. Hurtuk makes you feel like you are going to be okay. He goes far above and beyond in the care he provided to his patients and he takes the time to continuously check in,” said Lisa. “He truly is a Godsend.”
Today, Lisa can’t stop being a spokesperson for Little Company of Mary Hospital. “I brag to everyone about the five-star treatment and care that I received at Little Company of Mary,” said Lisa. Lisa credits the team of medical experts at Little Company of Mary Hospital and Dr. Hurtuk for their dedicated support and care. “Not only are they there for me, they comfort my entire family,” said Lisa. “I have no doubt that I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. At Little Company of Mary Hospital, you are not just a number, all of the doctors and nurses work together to provide you with the best possible care. They truly care about you as if you shared their same blood and DNA. Little Company of Mary is like my extended family.”
About Colon Care and Detection:
Dr. Michael Hurtuk urges both men and women at the age of 50 (earlier if you have a family history of colon cancer) to get a colonoscopy. Screening for colorectal cancer could save your life. Colon cancer almost always starts with a polyp; a small overgrowth of cells that forms on the lining of the colon or rectum that can potentially transform into cancer. Testing saves lives by finding polyps before they become cancerous. If precancerous polyps are removed, colon cancer can be prevented. Colon screenings play a significant role in identifying a course of action for patients with colon cancer. Advanced diagnostic technology and procedures at Little Company of Mary Hospital allow physicians to tailor treatment options for each patient.
Dr. Hurtuk will be hosting a free seminar on colon cancer and the new techniques in colorectal surgery. This informative seminar will be held on Monday, March 9th at Little Company of Mary Hospital, Link Room A on the 1st floor hallway across from Café 95. Program begins at 11:15 a.m. -Noon. To register, please call 708.423.5774.
As a service of Little Company of Mary Hospital and Health Care Centers, http://tests.lcmcancercare.org/colon_test.php is a valuable on-line resource that will help you understand your risk of developing colon cancer and provide tools and information about detecting, preventing and fighting it. This short assessment will help determine your level of risk for developing colon cancer. View it as the first step in understanding your situation and a basis for a deeper conversation with your health care provider.
Dr. Michael Hurtuk, fellowship-trained colorectal surgeon with Lisa Stalla.