Mississippi Valley Health Network

For Release: February 17, 2012

Family Health:
A Young Bettendorf Mother
Beats the Odds and Colon Cancer 

At thirty-nine, Gina Boubon was diagnosed with colon cancer and has gone on to beat the disease, living cancer-free for nearly six years.

(Davenport, IA) – Cancer. It’s a scary word and easy to get caught up with the word “colon” instead of the word cancer. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Anyone over 50 is at risk, but colon cancer survival rate is 90% with early detection.

Forty-five year old Gina Bubon is one who has beaten the odds and wants to save other lives along with her own. Diagnosed with colon cancer at the young age of 39 (a disease people often associate with the over-50 crowd) Gina is adamant that no one ignore colon cancer symptoms.

Gina’s Story
“While I was getting my annual exam at my OB/GYN’s office,” recalls Gina, “a series of tests revealed I had microscopic blood in my stool. My OB suggested I see a gastroenterologist.  While I couldn’t see any blood, my former gastroenterologist suggested it was probably due to hemorrhoids as a result of bearing two children. He said a colonoscopy was certainly an option, but only if I wanted to pursue the test. I had no risk factors: no family history and I wasn’t even 50.

“As a mother of teens, though, any risk of cancer was too great for me. I decided to have the colonoscopy and in doing so, the doctor discovered a long tumor in my colon about the mass of a baseball.  The thought of a misdiagnosis frightens me.  I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t had the colonoscopy.”

Doctors removed the tumor. Luckily, the cancer had not spread beyond the confines of Gina’s colon so she did not have to undergo chemotherapy. “I feel so fortunate and blessed, but it was scary,” says Gina.

Gina’s current gastroenterologist, Dr. Lauri Harsh, Eastern Iowa Gastroenterology, now examines Gina once a year for any sign of recurrence. “Dr. Harsh is just great and incredibly thorough,” says Gina.

“I am proud to say I’ve been cancer-free for almost five years. I ask that anyone with symptoms to get a colonoscopy. Take this seriously. Don’t take the risk. Life is too precious.”


Early Prevention is Key

“Colon cancer can be a very aggressive cancer, especially at younger ages,” warns Gastroenterologist Bettaiah Gowda, M.D., Gastrointestinal Clinic of the Quad Cities. “Often, the most common symptom is no symptom, so you must know your risk and if you are over 50, get the colonoscopy.”

While the cancer can be aggressive, amazingly, early prevention can lead to a 90% survival rate. “We find precancerous intestinal polyps (abnormal growths in the colon or rectum) in about one third of the patients we examine,” adds Dr. Gowda. “The cancer can be very treatable when we can remove polyps early.”

Lauri Harsh, D.O., Eastern Iowa Gastroenterology concurs. “There is no reason to wait. If patients are already experiencing blood in their stools, there’s a chance the patient could already be in Stage 2 or 3, which means much more aggressive treatment, surgery and the prospects of chemotherapy. And, colonoscopy technology has improved. The patient is sedated, so the test isn’t something to dread.


Log On and Learn Your Risk

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Thanks to the Mississippi Valley Surgery Center Endoscopy, Eastern Iowa Gastroenterology and Gastrointestinal Clinic of the Quad Cities, anyone can log on to http://www.becoloncancerfree.com and take a 2-minute risk assessment. The results will indicate if there are enough risk factors to warrant a colonoscopy. In general, people over 50 are at risk, yet adult children and siblings of colon cancer patients need to be screened at younger ages.

“When we looked at the best way to communicate the urgency to Quad Citians and surrounding communities the need to schedule a colonoscopy, we discovered there were few opportunities for people to assess their risk privately,” adds Dr. Harsh.

Web visitors can also email friends and family to remind them of their potential family risks, learn more about the disease or where they can schedule a screening procedure.



Know these symptoms of Colon Cancer:

  • Constipation
  • Bloody or Thin Stools
  • Stomach Cramps
  • Unexplained Weight Loss
  • Gas/Bloating


Schedule A Colonoscopy Today

Gastrointestinal Clinic of the Quad Cities
5041 Utica Ridge Road, Suite 100
Davenport, IA


Eastern Iowa Gastroenterology, PLC
3385 Dexter Court, Suite 116
Davenport, IA


Log On. Live On. Take the Test.



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For additional information or graphic resources (pictures, charts, etc.), contact:

Liz Lareau or Mike Bawden


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Gina Bubon (Bettendorf) beat the odds when she was diagnosed with colon cancer at 39. Six years later, Gina credits her decision to have a colonoscopy as the key to her recovery.

Factors that increase a person’s risk of colorectal cancer include high fat intake, a family history of colorectal cancer and polyps, the presence of polyps in the large intestine and chronic ulcerative colitis. (Source: WebMD)


Gastroenterologist Bettaiah Gowda, M.D., Gastrointestinal Clinic of the Quad Cities

Lauri Harsh, D.O., Eastern Iowa Gastroenterology

Photographs (right-click and save to download):