A couple of years ago, Desmond James was living a challenging but encouraging life as both a Janitor at an elementary school and caregiver to his grandmother and father (Desmond’s grandmother had been diagnosed with dementia while his father had survived a stroke). Desmond went to countless doctor appointments, and always loved coming home from them to cook for his family. In his free time, Desmond enjoyed hanging out with his dad and going on walks with his grandmother.
This was until Desmond started experiencing abdominal pains for a few months before going in to the doctor for a routine check-up. After describing his symptoms of abdominal pains, recent constipation and feeling fatigued to his doctor, a colonoscopy was ordered.
At his next doctor visit, in October of 2021, Desmond received his diagnosis of stage III colon cancer at the age of 39, “I was shocked! My first thought was, why me? I am an avid walker, gym goer and I ride my bike”. Desmond immediately started treatment: five rounds of radiation and seven cycles of chemotherapy.
Getting through treatment was tough for Desmond, but he got through it by focusing on his family, his healing and his religion,“I had so much support from my dad, my brothers, friends, cousins, uncles, and my aunts. One aunt in particular, she always had encouraging words and made it to all my treatments, all except one”.
On top of the love and support Desmond was so thankful to have, he turned to song to get through his tough times. In particular, whether it was a day of treatment or day of rest, Desmond would be found singing “I am Healed” by Donald Lawerence.
Desmond is sharing his story with us today to help bring more colon cancer awareness and hopefully motivate those who are on the fence of visiting the doctor to do so, “My advice to others is to not wait on going to the doctor to get a check up. The longer you wait, the more fear sits in and could possibly weigh in on your health. Once fear sits in, you begin to worry and worrying brings on stress and other ailments. Go get a screen before it’s too late”.
Since being cancer free, Desmond has been enjoying life in his hometown of Reserve, Louisiana where he is a baker and is also in school to become a nutritionist. Desmond exercises daily going to the gym and taking long walks.
One part about Desmond that will never change, whether he is facing his own hardships or not, is his devotion to taking care of his loved ones, “There is a saying ‘Give people their flowers while they can smell them’. I did exactly that with my late grandmother, Ida M. Stanton, who recently passed away in April 2023”.
Desmond continues to care for his father while living his life with peace and working on becoming an advocate for colon cancer.