In December 2006, I finally decided to listen to my wife, a nurse, and made an appointment to get a physical before I turned 65. The results were good – there was no sign of anything I had been worried about, no lung cancer, prostate cancer, etc. Later, my doctor called to ask if I had scheduled a colonoscopy yet. I said, "No way!"
My wife, of course, "suggested" that it might be wise to listen to the doctor. So, in early January 2007, as we were packed and scheduled to leave for Florida, I had my first colonoscopy. After the procedure, my doctor came in and told me I needed to see a surgeon right away. I told him that we couldn’t, since we were headed to Florida for the winter, but he said the trip would have to wait.
The doctor did not say I had colon cancer, but he did tell me I had a tumor in my lower colon that needed to be removed. I was in shock and scared. After a few more tests, and by the weekend, I was in real pain. I called my doctor early on Monday morning and went directly to the hospital. Ten days later, I left the hospital with 22 inches of my colon removed and about 35 pounds lighter than I am today. I was stage III and went through six months of chemotherapy. Every two weeks I came home with a pump, but it was not as bad as I thought it would be.
My wife and sister-in-law, who is also a nurse, were the best advocates and round-the-clock nurses for me. Recovery took time, and my first PET scan was clear - I loved the NED (no evidence of disease) name. I decided to quit smoking on the way to the hospital prior to surgery, and I am still smoke free today! I decided that a positive attitude and trust in a higher power [GOD] was the best thing I could do for myself.
I found the Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA) online, which was so informative and helpful. When I called their Helpline, Jeannie, the CCA’s Patient Support Manager, answered and helped me so much. The nurses at the hospital were also wonderful, and helped me get through chemotherapy and my regular check-ups. I always went into the infusion rooms to say hello and give them a hug.
In December 2011, my oncologist informed me that I did not need to return to see him anymore. Now, in April of 2012, I am well past five years NED, very healthy and active. I am extremely grateful to God and the wonderful care from the doctors, nurses and the CCA for all their help. It was a no brainer to decide to volunteer to be a "CCA Buddy" so I can return the favor and help others.
Joe is an active CCA Buddy and member of My CCA Support, the CCA’s online community. Visit Joe’s My CCA Support page.