Cancer keeps haunting my family. These past few years cancer has taken three of my loved ones, made one fight hard and strong against her cancer, and another is still fighting. This is just within my family; I have not even counted other loved ones outside of my family. The haunting of cancer kept coming up in different forms and types. I started telling myself that I wish cancer would develop all forms of cancer and kill itself.
The most recent loss to took a huge toll on my family was losing our father. On July 8, 2015, our father, Eddie Kwan Ho Yu, decided to leave this world. He wanted to free himself from the colon cancer that was eating him up. Our father was diagnosed with stage IV colon and liver cancer in October of 2013. We miss him very much. Some days a lot more and others days it is harder for one of my siblings than the other. Other days our mother has a very hard time. Yet, I strongly believe we are truly happier knowing that our father no longer has to be dealing with the pain of cancer.
Anyone who has seen someone fighting cancer would understand what I mean. What cancer does to the person physically, mentally, and emotionally is indescribable. The pain you see that person endures breaks you apart. To be honest, I do not know if one can ever fully recover from the images, emotions, and pain they experience from seeing someone they love in that state.
Maybe that is why I decided to put together a Get Your Rear in Gear for the San Francisco Bay Area. I did not want another family to go through what my family had to. Our first race was July 10, 2016, at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. When I signed up to be the local event director I had no idea what I really was doing. All I focused on was that I needed to do something and educate people. I wanted to educate the Asian community, which is my community, about how lethal colon cancer can be. Very few people know colon cancer is the second leading cancer related to deaths. Very few people know that if colon cancer is cancer is caught early it is very curable. Although, the sad truth is colon cancer usually is not detected until later stages and it is too late by then.
My family and father did not know any of that information. Prior to his diagnosis, my father seemed normal and healthy. He was still active and complained of no medical issues or feeling sick. Then all of a sudden on September 30th he had a minor TIA (mini-stroke), which made us check him into the ER. In a few hours the doctor said he had a minor stroke, but things seem ok. Since our father, like many traditional Chinese men in his generation, are stubborn and refuse to go to doctors regularly, my siblings and I took this chance with him at the hospital to make my dad do additional testing and screenings. We were concerned something was going on. We thought he should not have had a stroke all of a sudden.
We did many testings and what they found was there was some blood clots in his legs. This could have caused him to have the minor TIA. Although, we saw other tests that showed he was low in blood. We did not feel right with that, so we asked for additional testing with a GI doctor.
This is where it becomes even scarier. The first test with the GI doctor showed he had some polyps. They said we should schedule surgery to remove it and test it to see if it is cancerous. His liver enzymes test results came back “good,” so they did not worry and said removing the polyps would be good. Since I was scheduled to go to Hong Kong in a few days, I asked the doctor if it will be harmful to delay the surgery to remove the polyps for two weeks. She said no, it will be ok. Long story short, when I was in Hong Kong I was talking to my siblings and things did not sound right or look right with my father. We noticed his tummy seemed to be getting bigger. We knew that was a sign of a body failing. We made him go back to his GI doctor for another testing. I was on a conference call in Hong Kong, in a completely different timezone, when I found out my dad had colon cancer. He was in stage IV and it had already travelled to the liver.
I share my story to show why it was so important for my family and I to raise awareness for early screening and education about colon cancer.
The “ignorance,” stubbornness, and cultural beliefs prevented our father from taking steps that could have saved him from this terrible cancer. My family and I feel we have to educate our community. They have to learn about early screening, prevention, and get educated. The belief that “we are ok and going to the doctor and/or getting screened will cause things to be not ok” needs to STOP. We want to find ways to communicate to our Asian community and the entire community around us. Our father may still be with us today if someone would have made one of us or him hear this message and get educated.Return To Faces Of Blue Learn More About Colon Cancer Get Your Rear in Gear- San Francisco, CA