Thrown Off Track
- Indianapolis Motor Speedway Announcer Lindy Thackston, 40, is currently undergoing chemotherapy for stage 3 cancer, and keeping friends and fans up to speed on her journey via her new podcast Life With Lindy.
- The FOX 59 anchor shares symptoms to look out for, such as intense fatigue, pain and cramping in the lower stomach, and blood in the stool.
- A leading expert in colorectal cancer tells SurivorNet that this toilet conversation needs to happen at the dinner table, to fight the stigma, or perceived embarrassment of getting screened for this type of cancer.
Thackston is a local news anchor for Fox, grew up an Indy car fan, and was even one of the so-called “500 Princesses” who serve as ambassadors for the race. She is part of a wave of a increasing number of younger people who are getting colorectal cancer.Read More
“I’m just hoping if you notice anything like this in yourself or someone you love, you can do something quickly enough to have a fighting chance here,” she says in Episode 1, of her new podcast has started a podcast Life With Lindy.
Thackston talks about her colonoscopy, a screening method where a thin tube or scope is inserted into the anus to look for polyps, clumps of cells that form on the lining of the anus or colon.
“I have gotten so many questions that I want to answer and I’m finally feeling well enough to answer them,” she says. Her podcasts are about five minutes long and aim to educate people about cancer.
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Thackston’s husband, Christian Hogue, first noticed the IndyCar expert’s fatigue on a family trip to Disney World early last year (the couple met at the races where he worked as a crew member and have a 5-year-old son named Lachlan). Fatigue wasn’t unusual for the FOX 59 morning anchor considering her intense hours. She would often get up at 2 a.m. and sometimes work until 11 p.m. and then doing it all over again. She was feeling pressure in her tailbone and had a constant feeling of having to go to the bathroom. She had cramps and pain in her abdomen, then found blood in her stool.
Congrats, Lindy Thackston! He’s so handsome. Welcome to the FOX59 family, Lachlan!
Thackston stresses that family history is a huge risk factor, although in her case, there is no trace of the disease within her immediate family or with her relatives. Smoking, diabetes and obesity are other high risk factors, and African-Americans have a higher chance of getting the disease.
Thackston recently completed her eighth treatment, and shared a scary statistic as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
“Colorectal cancer screenings dropped 90% at the start of the pandemic. That is scary. There is no time to waste. And you are never too young. Please push as hard as you can for a #colonoscopy,” she says.
Medical professionals, along with patients like Thackston, are urging people not to cancel or postpone screenings. With the current safety measures and protocol for coronavirus well-established at hospitals and clinics, overall it is safe to get checked.
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Living with Colorectal Cancer
While many patients understandably have a hard time navigating a colorectal cancer diagnosis, it is valuable to know how far treatment of this disease has come in recent years.
“One of the most exciting things about my job is that we’ve made a lot of progress on treatment options,” Dr. Heather Yeo, a surgical oncologist and colorectal surgeon at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center, tells SurvivorNet. “However, patients are still — while they’re living longer, they are still living with colon cancer, and so I think it’s really important that we talk about how some of the things in your life affect you.”
Dr. Yeo addresses the top issues that a patient should focus on improving while living with this type of cancer, and what to address with their doctors and loved ones. “So talk a little bit about diet, talk a little bit about the environment, talk about what you can do to improve your length of life, and improve kind of how you interact with your disease,” she says.
Fighting the Stigma
One of the best pieces of advice that nearly all experts and people living with this disease can agree on, is not to let perceived embarrassment stop you from getting screened. A colonoscopy is painless, and medical professionals are doing them multiple times per day, business as usual for them. There is nothing to feel awkward about.
“I always like to make everybody say the words colon, rectum, and anus,” Dr. Zuri Murrell from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center tells SurvivorNet.
“And often people laugh and people giggle, but then I tell them that you shouldn’t die from fear, and you shouldn’t die from embarrassment. And that’s really the only two reasons that people are dying from this disease today.”
Dr. Murrell tells us that colorectal cancer in America is the “third most common cancer and it’s now the third most common cause of cancer-related deaths,” and can almost be completely prevented.
He stresses healthy eating, as Thackston does, and one of the top things he suggests for prevention is getting in 20-25 grams of fiber per day in order to have healthy, regular bowl movements.
“This is a toilet conversation that needs to be brought out to the dinner table,” he says, stressing the importance of a colonoscopy. “A colonoscopy is still the only test that prevents and can diagnose colon cancer. It is something that I encourage my patients, and I tell patients all the time, when I do their colonoscopy, we find a polyp. We take that polyp out. I say, congratulations. We prevented cancer.”