Annie and Steve Hamstra went on a colonoscopy date in July.
“It was romantic—we’re still newlyweds,” Annie joked. “The day all our dreams came true.”
“Look, we didn’t hold hands, we didn’t get it in the same room,” Steve said smiling.
All kidding aside, the Hamstras, of Zeeland, Michigan, know too well the importance of timely colon and cancer screenings.
“I lost my dad to colon cancer 15 years ago, so that placed me in the high-risk category because it is something that can be passed along from generation to generation,” Steve said.
He also lost his first wife to skin cancer.
“Cancer in Michigan is not an uncommon thing, I’m afraid,” Steve said. “It touches every family.”
Because of Steve’s family history, he’s been getting a colonoscopy every three years for the past 15 years.
“It’s old school for me, having had so many, but it was all new for Annie,” Steve said.
‘I was just being practical’
For Annie, scheduling the colonoscopies together just made sense.
“It was my first,” she said. “When you turn 50, that’s one of the great things that happens—you get your first colonoscopy. It was in the same cycle as Steve—he was due for his next one—so we decided to do it together.”
The couple fasted together, too.
“My thought was that if we both had to fast, we could fast together, because it’s hard when one person can eat and the other one can’t,” she said. “I was just being practical.”
“I went first, but then I had the opportunity to be in her room as she was waking up—to be reassuring, but she was fine,” Steve said.
“We would encourage people to get it, it’s not a bad procedure,” Steve said.
The couple enjoyed a post procedure pizza with Annie’s parents, who provided transportation for the day.
“Overall, it was a very pleasant experience and of course we love all the nurses at Zeeland,” Annie said.
Annie worked as a health information analyst at Zeeland Community Hospital for 20 years. Steve is a former hospital board member.
“We know the staff, and Dr. Serdahely is wonderful,” she added.
Annie retired from the hospital when she and Steve married in 2017. Steve is a consulting engineer who works remotely, so after the wedding the couple embarked on an adventure to see the country.
The couple spent time in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Dakotas, Texas, Alabama, Florida and parts of the East Coast.
“We rented our house, sold all our furniture and lived full-time on the road in a motor home for a year and half,” Steve said.
“But Annie got bored. She said she’s too young to sit by the pool and walk the dog all day,” he said, laughing.
Home is where the heart is
“I missed my grandbabies,” Annie said. “We have 13 between us.”
Both Annie and Steve are Zeeland natives.
Back home, Annie started her next adventure—opening a small-town bridal shop.
“I knew I wanted to work, but was looking for more flexibility,” Annie said. “Steve was kind enough to support my crazy idea of opening a bridal shop.”
Annie opened Annie Lane Bridal in downtown Zeeland in September 2019 and opened a second shop in Allegan in October 2020.
Annie’s mother, Sally Loser, helps with the business as a seamstress. Her daughter, Madison Wright, manages the store’s Allegan location and her granddaughter, Bella, 8, assists in both stores.
“I enjoy it,” Annie said. “It’s a very family-oriented business.”
In addition to the hospital board, Steve has served on Zeeland’s city council, school board and Board of Public Works.
“We’re very engaged in the community because we feel it’s important to give back,” Steve said.
And now they have notoriety that comes with getting a double colonoscopy in their hometown.
“It’s a conversation starter, quite honestly,” Steve said. “It’s like ‘Hey, we’re famous, we got colonoscopies together, have you done it?’”
“If it prompts one person to get tested, great,” Steve said.
“We’re the colonoscopy couple,” Annie said.