The CCAC shares its stories of survival to encourage hope for a better future
‘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.”
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