In late 2018 I started having more frequent bowel movements and bloody stools. I wasn’t overly worried but saw my primary care physician who after limited success with dietary changes referred me for a colonoscopy – presumably to repair an internal hemorrhoid.
Surprise! My first colonoscopy revealed a 3cm tumor in my rectum, and in March 2019 I began my aggressive treatment regimen and was diagnosed with stage 3B colon cancer. I was only 45 when I was diagnosed. Throughout that year I “enjoyed” chemotherapy, chemo-radiation treatments, tumor removal surgery with a temporary ileostomy, reversal surgery, and then post-surgery complications and infections requiring a few rounds of antibiotics. I went from a strong, healthy 205-pound guy who exercised regularly to a 175-pound weakling who could barely walk from my house to the neighbor’s driveway. The process was tough!
My best friend and wife of over 20 years and my two teenage sons supported me throughout the entire process. With a LOT of help and love, I made it through all the ups and downs; through the difficult times and the small victories along the road to recovery. In March 2020, I participated in my first “Get Your Rear In Gear” 5K, and honestly just walking it was tough. With the encouragement of my family and friends, I (barely) made it! I knew then I still had a long way to go toward full recovery.
Thankfully, I had a very strong and caring medical team, and my cancer remains defeated! I’m exactly two years out from my initial diagnosis, and have been able to build my body back! With the help of supportive organizations like the Colon Cancer Coalition, I educated myself on the dangers of this deadly disease. I now enjoy helping raise awareness and serving as a testament to early screening.
More than anything, I want people to be aware of this malady. It’s crucial to get tested early to prevent having to tread the path I traveled! Get to your doctor and get that colonoscopy – it could save your life!