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Michelle Benoist: Turning Challenge into Opportunity

Michelle Benoist

“I was actively being screened for cervical and skin cancer, but never thought about colorectal cancer. I’m now a huge advocate for cancer screenings, and I frequently encourage others to get screened.”

Michelle Benoist
Colon Cancer

Michelle Benoist has always stayed busy. That’s why as an active, healthy stay-at-home mother of two, the last thing she expected was a colorectal cancer diagnosis. But in 2016, Michelle found herself hearing the words no one wants to hear: “You have cancer.”

Stage IIA colorectal cancer, to be exact.

Identifying a Treatment Plan

Michelle said she remembers feeling stunned. But in the same way she takes care of business in her personal life and juggles many roles and responsibilities as a mother, Michelle accepted the news and wasted no time getting busy partnering with her care team at Texas Oncology–Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center to determine the best treatment option for her specific type and  stage of cancer, and its location. 

After a thorough evaluation of her disease, Michelle’s medical oncologist, A. David McCollum, M.D., explained that the treatment could take several routes. He collaborated with his colleagues at Texas Oncology to ensure an evidence-based treatment regimen for her specific disease stage and location. In Michelle’s case, they collectively recommended that she undergo chemotherapy and radiation therapy under the care of Charles P. Lee, M.D., followed by surgery.

After careful consideration and consultation with her care team and family, Michelle decided to undergo this aggressive treatment, which involved the combination therapy first, followed by surgery, to ultimately optimize her treatment success.

Roberto Rodriguez-Ruesga, M.D., FACS, FASCRS, performed Michelle’s surgery in partnership with Colin Koon, M.D., Ph.D., who performed a simultaneous hysterectomy using a minimally invasive technique via robotic surgery. This surgical approach helped Michelle avoid multiple surgeries and post-operative recoveries, in addition to avoiding a stoma, an opening on the abdomen that connects to the digestive system to allow waste to be diverted out of the body, which was very important to her.  

A New Outlook on Life

Fast forward more than three years since her initial diagnosis, and Michelle’s life looks differently.

“We can’t control everything about our health, but I believe in controlling the things I can. Since my diagnosis and treatment, I follow an organic diet and, over the years, I have traded my previous skincare products for those with minimal chemicals,” said Michelle, who also stays hard at work talking to others about the importance of prevention.

“I was actively being screened for cervical and skin cancer, but never thought about colorectal cancer. I’m now a huge advocate for cancer screenings, and I frequently encourage others to get screened,” said Michelle. “I also speak to those who are going through colorectal cancer treatment, all of whom have been under the age of 50. I share my experience and do my best to explain what I learned through my experience.”

Michelle said she knows the value of having support during one’s cancer journey. It was instrumental for her – especially during a period in her treatment when she couldn’t drive. Her family and friends stepped in and ensured her children were where they needed to be. 

Michelle said she’s also thankful for Drs. McCollum, Rodriguez-Ruesga, Koon, and Lee, and her team at Texas Oncology. “They were always caring and thorough,” she said.

The information included in this testimonial is based on one patient’s unique experience and is not intended to represent all patient outcomes or expectations.