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In Loving Memory: Mitch Turner

Mitch Turner of Fort Meyers, FL.

Six years ago My dad was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer and from that very moment he spent all his time keeping a positive attitude for us and himself. He would say everyday that he was going to hang in there until they found a cure. He took 5fu chemo treatments and never complained. When they gave him 16 months off, he worked, putting a 12X8 bathroom on my home and other construction projects, played golf and traveled.

Dad wrote a letter to the editor of his newspaper about discovering he had colon cancer. He told his story from his profession. The story was about replacing a room in a man’s home that was ravaged by termites. Dad related colon cancer to the termites and urged everyone to get checked for colon cancer. It was a very powerful story and many said they got checked because of this story. He would be proud to save just one life. He donated his body to science so that maybe he could still be of some help after he was gone. His letter to the editor is below.

Illness not always apparent

While I was on my daily three mile walk, which I do in an attempt to build up my body and blood for my pending chemotherapy treatment, I started thinking about how everything in your life can be so drastically altered in a few minutes. Just a few days before my appointment for a routine colonoscopy, I had finished a job to repair some extensive termite damage. The homeowners discovered the problem when the corner of a room dropped down a couple of inches. Although I have been involved in several of these jobs, this one was one of the worst I had seen. It started me thinking how incredible these harmless looking little creatures are. Unless someone discovers them by making a visual inspection, there is likely to be a lot of problems before you know they are there. You won’t see them and they make no sound or smell. Much more incredible than that is that basically the same thing can be going on in your body.

I went to the hospital on Dec. 1, thinking that this little deal will take about an hour and after a short recovery period I would resume a project I was working on at home. I got back home on Dec. 6 with a big scar, a section of my colon missing, and an appointment with an oncologist. Fortunately, like the folks with the termites, I had a sign. I had, just by chance -by pure, blind luck- seen some blood in a place that there should not be blood and made an appointment for my annual physical. If not for the blood, I probably would have gone another two years before I got the exam. The doctor confirmed the blood, but thought it was simply from another small problem I had for a long time. He said I should have the test anyway, since I had never had one. The diagnosis was colon cancer that had spread into the lymph nodes, thus the reason for the aforementioned chemotherapy.

If you’re still reading, you may be wondering about the reason for this letter. Let me assure you that I am not soliciting money, gifts, sympathy or anything else that would be deemed personal gain. Nor am I trying to drum up business for a ridiculously overpriced medical industry. A couple of people have told me that because of my experience, they are going to have themselves checked, and that’s the reason for me speaking. Just like the termites, I saw nothing, heard nothing, smelled nothing, and felt no pain. If reading this causes someone to get a problem fixed in time to avoid going through what I have, which is small stuff compared to what thousands of other people have had to endure, then I’ll be glad I wrote it. If you would check your house for termites, why shouldn’t you check your body for things that do the same thing to your organs?

E.M. Turner
Martinsville, VA

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