After surgery to remove cancer, one 73-year-old woman is feeling better than she has in decades.

Sally Peterson, of Adrian, N.D., was diagnosed with a twisted colon and several polyps in 2003 when she had her first colonoscopy at Jamestown Regional Medical Center

That year, doctors couldn’t complete her colonoscopy because it was too difficult.

“After hearing how difficult my colonoscopy was the last time due to the twist and knots in my colon, I didn’t think I could have another colonoscopy,” she said.

Fast forward to 2018.

As part of a routine exam, Peterson’s primary care provider expressed concern about Peterson and the 15 years since her most recent colonoscopy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person should have a colonoscopy every 10 years after the age of 50. However, if results show something or if there is a family history, an individual may need to have screenings more often.

To Peterson’s surprise, her primary care provider recommended she schedule another colonoscopy and so she did. Dr. Jonathan Eldor, Essentia Health general surgeon, performed her colonoscopy in February.

Again, the colonoscopy was difficult. But the effort was worth it, said Dr. Eldor. As part of the colonoscopy, Dr. Eldor discovered two large cancerous masses. Dr. Eldor also discovered that Peterson’s stomach was pushed into her diaphragm. This had caused her difficulty when eating and digesting food – something Peterson had suffered through for nearly 15 years.

That meant Peterson needed surgery to remove the cancer and to fasten her stomach in the right place.

“I was glad Dr. Eldor was the one to take care of me. He reassured me that he could do it. My colon was full of polyps, twists and kinks,” Peterson said. “So when he told me I had cancer and needed surgery, I said ‘you’ve got to do, what you’ve got to do. Let’s get ‘er done.’”

Once diagnosed, Peterson and her husband, Carl, contacted their two children.

“Our children were concerned, but we didn’t want to elaborate on it and frighten them,” Peterson said.

Peterson didn’t know much about Dr. Jonathan Eldor before he performed the procedures. But afterward, she said that there is no one she would rather choose due to how patient, kind and gentle he was.

Dr. Eldor joined Essentia Health in 2017. Originally from Israel, Dr. Eldor served in the military before attending medical school in the United States. Dr. Eldor grew up in a small town so he chose Jamestown because he knew they could make a big impact in a small town like the one in which he grew up.

“If Dr. Eldor hadn’t taken his time and I didn’t have a colonoscopy, I probably would have had full-blown cancer,” Peterson said.

Dr. Eldor removed two large cancerous polyps from Peterson’s colon during her February procedure at JRMC. During surgery, Dr. Eldor also reattached her stomach to its rightful place. In his career, Dr. Eldor has performed more than 200 surgeries and 100 colon procedures.

After surgery, Dr. Eldor scheduled an appointment for Peterson to visit with an oncologist from Fargo to verify there were no other cancer spots.

Thanks to the work of Dr. Eldor, there were no spots, Peterson said. That meant she didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation.

“These screenings help to find colorectal cancer at an early stage,” shared Dr. Eldor. “In Peterson’s case, we were able to detect and remove the cancer without it spreading.”

Since surgery, Peterson has felt better than she ever had. She is able to eat without indigestion. And other than a little soreness from the procedure, she said she feels great.

“I cannot imagine anyone not wanting to utilize Jamestown Regional Medical Center. JRMC doctors and nurses are so kind and good,” Peterson said. “You guys had better not let Dr. Eldor go anywhere besides JRMC. He’s as good as it gets.”

Peterson looks forward to enjoying her retirement. As she recovers, she plans to garden, can produce and with the help of her husband, ‘spoil’ her four grandchildren.