My Dad Had Colon Cancer When Should I Get Screened – Christine Bacon, a 46-year-old colorectal cancer survivor, will never forget the day her smile was etched on her face.
“I always say we have to make lemons out of lemons, but I’m not quite ready for the day my face freezes,” says Christine. “I was hooked on the 48-hour chemo pump when my youngest called from school, upset because she forgot an important homework assignment. I said to myself,
My Dad Had Colon Cancer When Should I Get Screened
. It was the middle of winter and -2 degrees outside, so I wrapped myself as warm as possible and headed to school.
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“As I was driving, I realized my face was completely frozen in a smile, and there was nothing I could do. I was afraid that it would never return to normal and called the doctor, who assured me that it was a normal side effect of oxaliplatin and that eventually my face would melted back to normal, which it did.”
Christine, who lives with her husband, William, and their three children, Jackson, 18, Bella, 15, and Livi, 13, in Ellicottville, New York, learned she had colorectal cancer in 2016. “I scheduled a colonoscopy after some outward symptoms. normal I always try to take care of myself – physically, spiritually and emotionally – and then this happened. I watched my mother die of ovarian cancer at the age of 63, when I was still in college, and I asked myself,
After the initial diagnosis, Christine got a second opinion and learned that she had stage 3 colorectal cancer. She researched her options and underwent treatment abroad, including a week of radiation followed by
“The recommended treatment included six months of chemotherapy, but having worked in the natural health field for 25 years, agreeing to chemo was a difficult decision for me,” recalls Christine. “In the end, I couldn’t argue with the 89% survival rate, and that brought me to Roswell Park, which is closer to home than where I started being treated. I am truly grateful for my experience at Roswell. Having spent time in three other hospitals, I can tell you it’s a unique place where everyone is very supportive of what’s best for me.”
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Christine added that focusing on her faith and having support from her family and friends was essential to her recovery. “My friend, Kristina, a naturopath I’ve known since preschool, came with me to the appointment. The doctors and nurses always took the time to answer our questions — and we had a lot!
“My chemo nurse was very supportive of my choice to add prayer to my treatment, which helped me a lot, especially at times when I felt lonely and couldn’t keep up with my family. I was lucky that I always had someone with me, but it it gives me comfort to see the volunteers in Roswell who are always there with lonely patients.”
Today Christine continues to focus on her blessings. Her son, Jackson — named after Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where Christine and William met while training as ski instructors — is a freshman at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Daughter Bella is a competitive downhill skier, making travel a big part of family life, and Livi continues to develop a passion for the arts, with pursuits in dance, theater and design.
“Cancer is a disruptor of life,” says Christine. “I had to miss a lot of everyday life outside the home, but my husband and children helped, and we had great support from my dad, Paul; stepmother, Diane; my sister, brother and their families; and the ongoing prayers sent by our community at Believer’s Chapel. Even our dog played an important role, comforting me when I was cocooned on the sofa for six months.
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“People would send me pictures of cute dogs, so I said, ‘When I feel better, we’ll get a Corgi – and now I have Lucy, my angel dog.'”
Still searching for answers, Christine continues genetic testing in Roswell Park. “My tests didn’t show anything abnormal, so getting cancer was a fluke – just part of my story.
“I felt sorry for myself, but I didn’t stay there too long. Now that I’m cancer free, I feel great, my hair is completely restored, and I’m back working at a health food store. I enjoy being a mom and wife and taking care of myself, and I’ve been working on getting certified in aromatherapy and essential oils so I can help others.”
Because cancer does not always cause symptoms in the early stages, screening tests are very important. Most people should start screening for colon cancer at age 45. If you have risk factors, talk to your doctor about starting screening earlier.
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If you experience any of the following symptoms of colon cancer, make an appointment to see your doctor for an evaluation:
Editor’s Note: Cancer patients’ outcomes and experiences may vary, even for those with the same type of cancer. An individual patient’s story should not be used as a prediction of how other patients will respond to treatment. Roswell Park is transparent about our patient survival rates compared to national standards, and provides this information, when available, in the cancer types section of this website. Dan Gut had been experiencing several symptoms, including changes in his bowel habits and blood in his stool, for about 18 months before mentioning them to his primary care physician. Since it often happens after eating ice cream, the 39-year-old father of five assumed he was lactose intolerant and the symptoms would eventually go away.
“I’ve never dealt with things like I’m going through, and I don’t want to deal with them,” admits Dan, who also rarely visits his doctor for routine check-ups. “I feel healthy and busy living life, like a normal man. Given my responsibilities with my family, checking out is something I should do immediately.”
And not alone. According to the 2021 Cleveland Clinic survey, up to 26% of men go to the doctor less than once a year or not at all.
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When Dan’s symptoms persisted, she decided to get him checked out. His first colonoscopy, a few months later, revealed multiple polyps with one advanced precancerous growth in his colon. Given the potential severity of the condition, her local doctor referred her to David Liska, MD, a colorectal surgeon and director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Weiss Center for Hereditary Colorectal Neoplasia and the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center.
“Many people who experience blood in their stool or changes in their bowel habits will attribute it to hemorrhoids. However, in some cases, it can become cancer, “explains Dr. Liska. “If Dan waits longer, it is more likely that he will get cancer that can spread to other organs.”
Dan said given his responsibilities as a father of five, he was grateful to have received treatment before contracting colorectal cancer. (Courtesy: Dan Gut)
According to Dr. Liska, the largest mass in the colon was determined to be an intramucosal carcinoma, which is an advanced lesion that is close to becoming cancerous. Given its presence, as well as more than 100 other polyps in various stages of growth, he recommended removal of Dan’s colon to prevent colorectal cancer.
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“It was an exciting situation when I found out about the need for colon surgery and all the polyps I had,” Dan said. “Thanks to the central approach, I can ask the right people to coordinate all the care I need.”
Due to medical advances in recent years, Dr. Liska is able to perform minimally invasive laparoscopic colectomy, making small incisions instead of open surgery. Using a fiber-optic device with a camera at the end, he views the area on a large video monitor, allowing him to precisely remove the organ using a laparoscopic tool. Dr. Liska was able to connect Dan’s small intestine directly to his rectum, allowing digestion and evacuation to continue normally.
Dan was hospitalized for several days and recovered quickly from surgery. Because the polyps removed were precancerous, she did not need chemotherapy and only took over-the-counter medications to help control bowel function. He did, however, change his eating habits. During his evaluation, Dan was diagnosed with celiac disease, which affects the small intestine. He must now maintain a gluten-free diet.
“I have to be careful with what I eat, like nuts. I have to chew slower and longer, so I feel full faster,” says Dan. “But now the energy level is higher than before, and I feel better than before. I’m very lucky to have the results I have, considering I ignored it for so long.”
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And with his son. His message to the public, especially younger adults, is to seek immediate care when they first notice changes in their health. (Courtesy: Dan Gut)
Dr. Liska urges anyone, including younger people, not to ignore symptoms and seek medical attention immediately if they experience persistent abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or bowel changes
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