VIDEO: Angie’s Extraordinary Story – How Her Doctors Found Cancer


By Ames McFarland Clinic

Angie at McFarland

Ames Mcfarl and Clinic

Angie said she was a generally healthy person, but she always made a point of going in for an annual exam.

“To me an annual exam is a no brainer,” she said. “Why not just have that check-up every year and know where you stand? It’s an opportunity for me to touch base every year and make sure I’m on track.”


At her annual exam in 2016, Angie’s primary care provider, Dr. Valerie Torgerson of McFarland Clinic Family Medicine, recommended a fecal immunochemical test (FIT). The FIT tests for hidden blood in the stool, which can be an indicator of colon cancer. The test is non-invasive and can usually be done at home.

Though Angie had just turned 40, she said the FIT was “something that wasn’t really on my radar. You always hear mammograms at 40, colonoscopies at 50. But it would be another 10 years before I would have a colonoscopy, so it just didn’t hurt as a preventative step.”

Within a couple of days of dropping the test off at the clinic, Angie received a call from Dr. Torgerson. The test had detected blood in Angie’s sample.

After a second FIT to confirm the results, Dr. Torgerson referred Angie to Dr. Bryan Graveline, a specialist in Gastroenterology at McFarland who performed a colonoscopy.

“That’s when I learned I had cancer,” said Angie.

Referrals to Specialists

Angie and her care team moved quickly. She was referred to McFarland Clinic surgeon Dr. Greg Sachs, who removed the tumor, then to McFarland Clinic Oncology specialist Dr. Joseph Merchant, who saw her through six months of oral chemotherapy.

After another round of testing, the results showed Angie was cancer free.

Choosing McFarland Clinic

“I think the choice I made to continue my care with McFarland really came down to the trust I had with Dr. Torgerson,” said Angie. “We had built this relationship, so when she referred me on to a doctor for my colonoscopy, I trusted that recommendation. And it was a series of recommendations from there as far as seeing a surgeon and then being referred on to an oncologist.”

“The care I received was phenomenal,” she said. “We’re very fortunate to have McFarland Clinic because there is such a great team of doctors and resources that I have needed throughout this process.

“I wouldn’t see any reason why you would need to look far or travel any great distance when you have a great resource like this in our community.”

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