Archive for March, 2017
‘Upon my diagnosis I knew very little, if anything, about cancer except that I had to fight. I wanted to do everything possible to improve my situation, but I had no experience and I understood very little of the information given to me. I vowed to do as much research as I could so that I would be able to make informed decisions about my treatment.
My determination proved to be a very important first step in my cancer journey and as a survivor. I now know that colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable. That’s why I have devoted my life since 1995 to making others aware of the disease, supporting patients and their families and working hard across Canada both for the implementation of screening programs, as well as equal and timely access to effective treatments to improve patient outcomes.’
Over 20 years ago Barry Stein’s vision to create a better, more preventive and equally accessible medical environment for all Canadians touched by colorectal cancer was put into motion with the birth of the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada (CCAC). His mission was threefold: Awareness, Advocacy and Education, the three pillars needed to implement change for a cancer free future.
As part of their programs, the CCAC developed numerous monthly support groups across the country to create a meeting place for patients, their families and caregivers to talk about their individual situations and exchange ideas of how to help each other through not only their struggles but their successes as well. The CCAC’s dedicated cancer coaches furnish attendees with valuable information by sharing up to date information about the most current therapies designed to help them. Participants have said they come away from the meetings empowered with vital knowledge each time. Here are a few stories of people the CCAC has helped over the years:
Diagnosed with Stage IIIB Rectal Cancer
Elan felt in perfect health before his annual checkup and a rectal exam to check his prostate found microscopic traces of blood. Both his GP and GI told him it was probably nothing based on his young age but recommended a colonoscopy just in case.
“The day of the diagnosis still seems likes a dream in my memory. I remember feeling like it can’t be real.
I was lucky to have such a supportive and loving family and wife who took amazing care of me through all stages of my treatment. I also feel lucky to have made some amazing friends who are my peers in this journey and have greatly enriched my life. I think everyone who goes through the journey comes out stronger and with a better perspective on life than when they went into it.”
Diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer
Frank Formusa began his journey with cancer at 66.
In the fall of 2012, his Oncologist suggested that he may be a candidate for a Hepatic Arterial Infusion Pump – a procedure unavailable in Canada during that time. He wrote to various Provincial and Federal agencies to advocate for the procedure to be done in Canada. In doing so, he met Barry Stein who shared his own successful personal journey with colon cancer and introduced him to Filomena Servidio-Italiano – leader of one of the CCAC support groups.
“This is not a disease that one should go through by themselves. To go to the CCAC meetings is to have a safe place for patients and their families to be really listened to and appreciated. We have left every meeting feeling more informed and with a more positive outlook.
Thank you CCAC – Thank you Filomena! I am so grateful to have met you and to know that you are there for us and for so many just like us.”
Diagnosed Stage IV Colon Cancer two weeks shy of her 28th birthday
Her diagnosis stemmed from acid reflex complaints at a walk in clinic.
“I have had my surgeon admit that he never thought he would see me again after our first meeting. But with determination, a positive attitude and the will to keep on living – I have proved everyone wrong. I know this is not the end of my battle against colon cancer. I will be fighting this for the rest of my life, but that is ok. I am not thankful for cancer – that would be crazy – I am thankful for other things it has given me. I have a greater appreciation for all those who surround my life. It has made me into a person I didn’t know existed.”
Diagnosed with Stage IV Colorectal Cancer in August 2005
After her surgery to remove the primary tumour along with about 75 percent of her colon, followed by a full round of chemotherapy, Linda was introduced to the CCAC and its support groups.
“It is now seven years later and I am still ‘No Evidence of Disease’. Perhaps I am the exception, but I learned that the most important lesson here is to be your own advocate and I pass it along to anyone who will listen, thanks to the CCAC and the invaluable support they offered through CCRAN (CCAC support groups). I OWE THEM MY LIFE.
When Marie was diagnosed she had very few symptoms. But following a colonoscopy her world and that of her husband and two children (ages 13 and 17) came crashing down.
“Throughout this journey, with the education, support and guidance of the CCAC, I have learned a lot about this disease. Most importantly, I learned this is not just an old person’s disease! This disease affects men and women of all ages. It does not discriminate.
The CCAC is here for people like you and me. People who desperately require support, guidance and above all education, so that we can get through the ups and downs that we go through when battling this horrible disease.
I am so fortunate that I started my journey with the CCAC because without their help I would not be “cancer-free today”! What a gift they gave to me and to my precious children and husband! Thank you CCAC, for all the support and guidance you have given us. You truly are “Angels!”
When Werner went to see his doctor about some problems he was having he was told that he had nothing to worry about because he was young and in good shape. Following a few tests he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
“In that moment, I saw my life flash before my eyes – my career and dreams of getting married and starting a family vanishing.
The CCAC helped me acquire all the information that I needed to understand my treatments to follow in the months ahead and ultimately beat colorectal cancer. The CCAC also helped my family get the information they needed to support me in my long journey.
My dream for the future is that colorectal cancer screening becomes as routine as going to the dentist.”
Colorectal cancer no longer discriminates on age. While colorectal cancer incidences and mortality rates in Canadians aged 50+ have been declining in recent years due to increased screening and surveillance programs, the opposite is unfortunately being reported for our younger population.
In the last few years, Canadian doctors have observed a rapid increase in the number of patients under age 50 with colorectal cancer. What makes it even more concerning is that they cannot explain why.
The study also found that younger patients are getting diagnoses at later stages making them harder to treat and leading to increasing fatalities. These shocking statistics reveal that there is more work to be done in terms of prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer in Canada – especially for young adults.
In the last year, the CCAC has partnered with the Never Too Young (“N2Y”) Coalition, an organization united to take action on young onset of colorectal cancer through action, education, and research. The Coalition includes medical professionals, patient advocacy organizations, cancer survivors and caregivers working to educate the public about this growing issue and to reduce the number of late stage young-onset colorectal cancer cases.
Together with the N2Y coalition, the CCAC provides support and information to young patients in Canada who have experienced early onset of the disease.
Young patients may not always understand the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer, which may delay their seeking medical attention. Symptoms of CRC can vary from blood in the stool, abdominal discomfort, constipation and much more.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, men are more at risk than women for the disease. Eating processed and red meats, a lack of dietary fiber, a lack of physical exercise, obesity, alcohol, smoking, diabetes and genetics are also identified as risk factors.
Younger patients should consider the following when speaking to their doctors about their inherited risk or symptoms for colorectal cancer:
About 10% of the population has a first degree relative with colon or rectal cancer. If it is evident in your family tree, it is recommended to start screening as early as the age of 25.
Changes in certain genes increase your risk of colon cancer.
Lynch Syndrome is the most common type of inherited colon cancer, accounting for about 2% of all colon cancer cases. Lynch syndrome is a mutation of a gene that is responsible for fixing errors in your DNA. Lynch Syndrome, also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC), is an hereditary disorder caused by a genetic mutation in which affected individuals have a higher than normal chance of developing colorectal cancer, endometrial cancer, and various other types of aggressive cancers, often at a young age. To prevent colorectal cancer, people with Lynch Syndrome should undergo a colonoscopy every 1-2 years, starting in their twenties. Doing this will reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 77%.
The CCAC is dedicated to colorectal cancer awareness and education, supporting patients and their families, and advocating on their behalf. Like most non-profit organizations, we rely on donations and money collected from fundraising events to maintain the services and programs we offer. As a result, throughout the year we host numerous campaigns and events to ensure we maintain our promise of working towards change for a better colorectal cancer free future.
As always, we invite our many supporters to participate either by attending or sponsoring our events and campaigns which include, Dress in Blue Day, Scotiabank Marathons, our annual Gala in Montreal, Foods That Fight Cancer, Never Too Young and Decembeard, to name a few.
However, in addition, we are very lucky and thankful to have numerous supporters across the country that host their own fundraising events in honor of a loved one affected by colorectal cancer. These individuals not only have our support via promotional or educational materials required but also have access to local staff or volunteers available to ensure their event’s success. Previous volunteer hosted events include; golf/baseball tournaments, luncheons, dinners, concerts, fashion shows, movie nights, art exhibitions and auctions.
Should you be interested in joining our volunteer staff or hosting a local event of your own, please do not hesitate to contact Frank Pitman at email@example.com.
Upcoming Fundraising CCAC events:
Dress in Blue
Dress in Blue Day happens annually on the first Friday of March to celebrate Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month; activities go on all month long. On this day, we engage schools, businesses, community groups and individuals to help us call attention to colorectal cancer awareness and spread lifesaving knowledge on prevention.
You can engage by hosting denim days and blue costume contests at offices and schools, holding local fundraising events, getting involved on social media and so much more. To be part of Dress in Blue Day and for any further information go to dressinblue.ca. We would love to see a colorectal cancer free world, please be part of the success by showing support!
The whole month of March is dedicated to Colorectal Cancer Awareness. The month where the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada strives to raise awareness about the importance of screening and offers support to those touched by the disease.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in Canada, yet it can be detected through simple screening tests. Colorectal cancer affects everyone, young and old, male or female. Although the prevalence of the disease increases at about 50 years old, many young individuals are touched by the disease, and the CCAC makes a point in offering them support.
The CCAC’s mission is Awareness, Education, Support and Advocacy. They continue to develop new events and programs across the country, with the goal of having a strong voice in every Canadian city.
This month, is also Nutrition month which ties in perfectly with the Foods That Fight Cancer program, a program that aims to celebrate a healthy lifestyle and primary prevention of cancer. We have also aligned with our alliance partners all over the world to promote the Never Too Young (N2Y) campaign supporting young patients diagnosed with the disease.
To beat this disease, we need the world to know how it can lower its risks through healthy lifestyles and screening.
We are in this fight together and will one day be able to proudly say that we beat this disease together!