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'Our Friend's Fight': News 3 reporter Denise Rosch talks her battle with cancer

'Our Friend's Fight: News 3 reporter Denise Rosch talks her battle with cancer

February is National Cancer Prevention Month.

Cancer is America’s number two killer, behind only heart disease. However, if you catch cancer early, you can beat it at its own game.

That's something someone very near and dear to our hearts wants to make sure you understand.

You haven't seen Denise Rosch for several months on-air at News 3. That's because she has a more important job right now than getting a story.

She's fighting cancer.

On a quiet cul-de-sac, I stop by to see my friend, Denise.

For her, life has changed.

“Yeah, I'm home a lot more,” Denise said.

Which is understandable, because on October 4 last year, my friend Denise -- your friend Denise, whom you've watched on News 3 since 1990 -- became a statistic.

That day, she became one of the 1.7 million Americans diagnosed with cancer.

The doctor told her she has cancer of the colon.

“I had no history, no symptoms. That can't be, I feel fine,” Denise said.

For this very accomplished reporter, her new assignment is to get healthy.

“As soon as you get into Comprehensive Cancer they give you this whole book, and it's just like anything you want to know: possible side effects, anything at all,” Denise said. “They just kinda load you up with information.”

For Denise, and the millions like her, it is not an easy fight. Every two weeks, Denise has chemotherapy at the Comprehensive Cancer Center in Henderson.

On Wednesday, it was treatment six. She has six more left.

“They're putting poison in you,” Denise explained. “But it's doing what it's supposed to. It kills off these cells.”

The treatment can take its toll.

“It's just draining,” she described. “And then, it's like, really tired -- not sleepy tired. It's like I can't get up. I can't move. Walking up the stairs, now I'm tired, I gotta sit down.”

One in 20 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women.

That is why the message is get screened because early detection works.

Rupesh Parikh is Denise's doctor.

If we find it in an early stage or before it turns into cancer, precancerous lesions for example,

“If we can take care of that, then it avoids actually developing into cancer,” Dr. Parikh explained. “So it buys you time.”

Denise had put her screening off. But finally, last fall, she went. Now she tells anyone who will listen: go get checked.

“This has made me happy: A couple of my husband's friends, for instance, have gone and got screened since this all happened,” said Denise. “And that makes me happy.”

Anyone facing cancer becomes a fighter. Little did the disease know, it picked one tough lady.

“Look, I'm not completely stupid. This is stage four,” Denise said. “There is no stage five. You stop it here, or it stops you.”

It’s been diagnosed as stage 4 because there were signs it may have spread to Denise's liver.

This story needs a little good news. Her most recent cat scan shows the liver is now clear.

The drugs are working.

“Denise is doing awesome. She's our trooper,” said Dr. Parikh. “She's always been a fighter.

She's followed every recommendation we've asked her to do.”

So, Denise is looking forward to spring, when the chemo stops.

“I just keep looking toward May 3,” she said.

She's also looking forward to summer when her daughter enters medical school.

“When she was little, every time we went to the mall I think we took a picture,” Denise said.

And she's looking forward to doing what she loves: being back in her cubbyhole in the newsroom, digging up a story.

But first things first: she wants to kick cancer's ass, and make sure all our viewers never have to face her fight.

When it comes to colon cancer, if you're 45 or older, you should be screened.


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