WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Beverly Brown knew something wasn't right.
"Because I kept having constipation," Brown says.
She would have no action for days.
"When I did have a bowel movement, it was very thin and dark in color," she said.
Brown said she also noticed blood but that didn't really concern her because she would occasionally get hemorrhoids.
"I really thought it was a very large hemorrhoid and I would take laxatives. You know how we women are. We try to treat ourselves and I kept drinking laxatives and laxatives wasn't moving it."
After weeks of constipation, Brown went to her doctor. A physical showed no signs of a problem, so her physician suggested the FIT test, a home kit that screens for colon cancer. It's commonly referred to as the 'card test' because that's precisely what it is—a card used to collect a sample of a person's stool.
A doctor can order the home kit. Individuals can also walk in off the street to a place called Any Lab Test Now, a clinic located in the Landfall Shopping Center and ask for the kit. No appointment is necessary. You don't even need a doctor's referral.
"Especially if they are uninsured or nervous about the doctor's appointment or have a high deductible," says Susan Lynch, managing partner of Any Lab Test Now. "They can just come in and pay for the test on their own."
The test cost $99.00. If a patient gets the test through their physician, it is covered by insurance.
Brown got the home kit through her doctor. It was simple; three cards and three samples.
"I finally took them back," Beverly says referring to her stool samples. "You know you keep them in the refrigerator to keep them fresh so I finally took them back and instantly blood was found on all three cards."
The cards or home kits don't confirm cancer but they show evidence of the disease. A colonoscopy is required to confirm colon cancer.
"This is a good way to screen before you even go to the doctor," says Lynch.
Brown's doctor ordered a colonoscopy which confirmed cancer in 2015. She would have much of her large intestines removed along with part of her rectum and would have to wear a colostomy bag for a year. She was able to have a colostomy reversal, also known as a colostomy takedown. The procedure is a process that reattaches the colon to the rectum or anus.
She says those little cards saved her life.
"I'm so grateful because I would probably be wearing a bag for the rest of my life. I work with what is called short gut syndrome because I'm working with my short intestines, but I'm thankful I'm able to go to the bathroom and use it the right way."
If you would like one of WECT's Plaid Packs that includes information on colon cancer and other types of cancer, go to wect.com and click on Plaid Pack.