“At 28 years-old, I went to see my doctor about a problem I was having. He told me that I had nothing to worry about because I was young and in good shape. Following a few tests, I 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. Today, nine years later, I have three children with the same woman and I survived this cancer. And for the first a few years ago, I was able to complete my marathon.
My dream for the future is that colorectal cancer screening becomes as routine as going to the dentist.”
In the spirit of Young Survivors Week, the CCAC has compiled a series of survivor stories to offer hope, instill courage and inspire change. We continue to share new stories every day. If you would like to share yours, please send it to email@example.com.
It was a day I will never forget. Two weeks shy of my 28th birthday I was awoken after my colonoscopy and told I have stage four colon cancer. My heart sunk. How is this possible? Just two months ago I was at the walk-in clinic complaining of acid reflex and now I have cancer?
I was quickly introduced to a surgeon who informed me that my liver was riddled with tumours and unfortunately I was inoperable. I quickly kicked everyone out of the room as I felt myself running out of air. Five minutes later he came back in and I sat up from the fetal position and said, “No. I believe you will operate. I challenge that you will see the inside of my body within 1 or 2 years.” After four rounds of chemotherapy, to my surprise, I was right. I underwent two operations that year and since then I have had five, with my sixth coming this June. I have been told not once, but twice that I am inoperable. 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.
For my own therapeutic reasons I started a blog to help drain the chaos that exists in my brain. It is found at www.youngfemalecancer.com. I openly share my experiences and thoughts – and welcome anyone to interact with me through there.
Keep on fighting!
On December 2, 2014, I went for my annual physical. I was feeling to be in perfect health, no issues whatsoever. During the exam my doctor found microscopic traces of blood after doing a rectal exam to check my prostate, which all men over 40 dread. The doctor said the finding was probably nothing but referred me to a GI doctor for further investigation.
I blew off making the follow up appointment for a few weeks until I just happened to stumble across the paper with the GI doc’s info on my generally messy office desk where it could have easily gotten lost and the referral forgotten. I went to see the GI doc in early January, he concurred with my primary care doctor’s opinion that it was probably nothing based on my young age but recommended we schedule a colonoscopy just in case.
A few weeks later (5 days after my 42nd birthday), I got scoped… when I awoke from anesthesia the doctor informed me that he found a 2.5cm tumor in my rectum. Obviously, this news hit me and my wife like a ton of bricks. The day of the diagnosis still seems likes a dream in my memory. I remember feeling like it can’t be real. Although a CT scan I had later that day revealed an enlarged lymph node, it showed no spread to my vital organs. My diagnosis was classified as Stage IIIB rectal cancer.
The anticipation of treatment came with a lot of fear and uncertainty. I worried not only about how it would affect me, but I had concerns for how my family would handle it. My kids were 4 and 7 at the time, and while we felt it was important for them to know the truth, their daddy had cancer; we wanted to be careful not to scare them. I worried about how my business would function without me, as I run a small software company and play a large role in the day-to-day management responsibilities.
Treatment itself was challenging, but I suffered no complications and managed to deal with the side effects of chemotherapy relatively well. I was lucky that I had a great response to chemotherapy and was therefore able to avoid radiation. I never really felt like a cancer patient except for maybe on a handful of days.
Surgery brought some adjustments to the new anatomical structure of my GI tract, but again I was lucky to avoid needing “a bag” and for the most part function returned to normal.
Looking back on my cancer journey I don’t consider myself to have been unlucky for having developed this disease, but rather I consider myself very fortunate for having found it relatively early, for having responded well to treatment and for being on the road to full recovery.
I was lucky to have such 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.
RECENT STUDIES SHOW COLORECTAL CANCER DOES NOT AGE DISCRIMINATE. YOU’RE NEVER TOO YOUNG TO BE AWARE & PREPARED
Reports from across Canada show doctors are observing a new trend in colorectal cancer that cannot be ignored nor explained – a “rapid increase” in the number of patients being diagnosed under age 50.
A new study, led by doctors from the University of Toronto, looked at Canadian Cancer Registry data from 1997 to 2010 and found that incidences of colorectal cancer rose by:
• 0.8 per cent per year for people in their 40s,
• 2.4 per cent per year for people in their 30s, and
• 6.7 per cent per year for those between ages 15 and 29.
Thankfully awareness campaigns and advocacy to increase the accessibility of colorectal cancer screening has been responsible for declining rates in people over 50 in the last few years. However, these new reports are a reminder that there is still so much more work to be done.
This year, the CCAC was proud to join forces with the Never Too Young Coalition (N2Y), a branch of Colon Cancer Alliance. Their mandate, like ours, is to raise awareness about the disease, preventative screening and to provide much needed information to the younger Canadian population about the signs and symptoms of the disease, particularly how to avoid a misdiagnosis, which according to studies is occurring more frequently due to the age shift.
Although it is evident that more research is needed to determine the cause of this age shift, we are encouraging doctors and patients to become more vigilant and conscience as the signs and symptoms of colon cancer can often be mistaken for other, less serious issues. The longer it takes for a diagnosis the harder it is treat, which is key in survival.
Risk factors for colon cancer
The fact that incidence is rising only among younger people suggests “lifestyle” factors are at play, but the evidence of this is not concrete. Pay attention to your body and if you have any of these risk factors, talk to your doctor – take charge of your health!
• Family history of colon cancer or polyps: First and second degree relatives of a person with a history of colon cancer and polyps are more likely to develop this disease, especially if the relative had the cancer at a young age
• Genetic Alterations: Changes in certain genes increase your risk of colon cancer. Those with syndromes like hereditary nonployposis colon cancer (HNPCC or Lynch Syndrome) or Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) should be screened earlier than 50
• Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease
• African Americans should be screened starting at age 45, or sooner if you have other risk factors or symptoms
• Lifestyle factors, like eating processed and red meats, a lack of dietary fibre, a lack of physical exercise, obesity, alcohol, smoking, diabetes and genetics
June 5-11 will mark the second annual “Young Survivors Week,” connecting with patients, survivors, and caregivers to create buzz around young onset colon cancer. Join us and N2Y as we spread the word via social media by sharing stories and information to help others understand that IT can happen to anyone.
The Giant Colon Tour was the main attraction at the the 2016 Balanse Bum Run held in Queen’s Park in downtown Toronto on April 24th. Over 1,000 participants braved the cold weather and walked or ran 5 kilometres to promote colon cancer awareness and raise over $110,000 for various charities. The 40 foot long pink colon was up and running before the participants began to arrive at 7:30 AM. due in large part to CCAC super volunteers Ted Trueman and Jeannette Pane who were there at 5:00 AM to begin the process.
Dr. Ian Bookman and Tanya Pierunek are the driving forces behind this fantastic event and we are thankful for their outstanding efforts to promote colon cancer awareness and help the various charities raise funds for their causes.
We would like to thank all the participants who registered and received pledges on behalf of the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada. You raised over $20,000 to help us continue our awareness and patient support programs. Great Job!
We look forward to you joining us again next year.
Kirsten Burgomaster, Clinical Director of the R.S. McLaughlin Durham Regional Cancer Centre (DRCC) and Lesley Bovie from Communications at Lakeridge Health, welcomed Nicole Chuchmach and and Natalie Atkinson in the main lobby of the hospital on April 20th, 2016.
Great things happen every day at the cancer centre. April 20th was certainly no exception as they welcomed Sophie’s Run for a quick rest stop. Nicole and her running mate Natalie are running from Humber College to Ottawa this spring to raise awareness and funds for the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada. Nicole lost her mother Sophie to the disease in 2006. Here she is ringing the gong in our radiation treatment area in her memory, and meeting the amazing Henry Westerhof who is undergoing treatment now at our centre. We thank Nicole and Natalie for visiting the cancer centre and we wish them well on the rest of their adventure.
About Sophie’s Run
Sophie’s Run II is an event to promote and educate students about colorectal cancer. It was launched by Nicole Chuchman, a professor of Hospitality and Tourism at Humber, who started running to cope with the grief if her mother’s death from colorectal cancer.
This is not the first time Nicole has run for the cause. Her original run was back in 2008. This year, she took off from Humber North campus to Ottawa on April 14, 2016.
“It’s raising more awareness which is what this disease needs because my mom passed away because she ignored her symptoms,” said Chuchman. “So the more education we can get out of it, the better.”
Colorectal cancer has been one of the most extensively studied cancers in relation to physical activity, with more than 50 studies examining this association. Many studies in the United States and around the world have consistently found that adults who increase their physical activity, either in intensity, duration, or frequency, can reduce their risk of developing colon cancer by 30 to 40 percent relative to those who are sedentary regardless of body mass index (BMI), with the greatest risk reduction seen among those who are most active (3–7).
The world of fitness is not different than anything else, fads will come and go but here are some of the trends expect to continue and surface in 2016:
1. Obstacle Courses
Race formats like the Spartan Race will continue to be popular – the draw is the challenge in finishing the race. Best suited for those with competitive genes.
Mini trampolines or rebounders (fitness world terms) bring the functional fitness craze to new heights. Training on an unstable surface not only works to increase muscle strength and stability but helps improve balance and is definitely a cardio workout.
3. Shorter Workouts – High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
HIIT is a training technique in which you give all-out, one hundred percent effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short, sometimes active, recovery periods. This type of training has been shown to have the same benefits as longer workouts as it gets and keeps your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time.
4. Barre Classes
Most barre-based classes use a combination of postures inspired by ballet and other disciplines like yoga and Pilates. The barre is used as a prop to balance while doing exercises that focus on isometric strength training (holding your body still while you contract a specific set of muscles) combined with high reps of small range-of-motion movements.
5. Functional Fitness
Functional fitness exercises simulate activities you might perform in day-to-day life, with an emphasis on core stability. These exercises are fun and can be done at home or at the gym, alone or in groups. Exercise tools, such as fitness balls, kettle bells and weights, are often used in functional fitness workouts.
Trends aside, the most widely available fitness option is walking. It’s low-impact, gentle on joints, and can be done anywhere by anyone. Always work at your own pace. If you want more cardio just speed up your rhythm and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. You should be able to talk in between breaths while walking. As you progress, you may want to add some light ankle or wrist weights. Comfortable shoes and a bottle of water are a must. If you are a night walker, invest in some reflective gear as well.
Whether you’re a novice or a fitness buff, always remember to start slowly when taking up a new exercise. Jumping in too quickly is a recipe for injury and could set you up for failure and always remember to stretch before and after any workout. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you haven’t exercised for a long time, have chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis, or you have any concerns.
Exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, gain health benefits and have fun. For some people, daily fitness is a serious sacrifice that requires careful time management and dedication. But when you make your health a priority, the benefits are truly worth the time and effort you spend on it.
Hello, I am a colorectal cancer patient with metastatic disease. I was diagnosed just over 4 years ago and had emergency surgery of the large bowel. Since that first surgery, I have had 5 more, plus countless chemotherapy sessions. I came across the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada’s CCRAN support group meetings that are held in Oakville, 100 km away from my home, 3 years ago. Since then I have attended on a regular basis.
I do believe that I have an important role to play in my treatment. I make sure I have a healthy life style and I rely on CCRAN to provide another dimension to my healing journey.
At our monthly meetings, the chair shares recent developments in advances in treatment from around the world. It is important to know that these are published scientific notes and include developments in drug therapy as well as other interventions. Guest speakers, usually researchers from teaching hospitals, are invited to share developments in their area of expertise and newer options for treatment. I am so pleased to see that some of our members have benefitted from these innovative procedures. It gives me great hope and I anticipate being able to consult with specialists with a unique outlook.
In addition to research presentations, the group shares coping strategies and updates on their treatments. We encourage each other with our shared experiences.
Besides the benefits of group support, I believe the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada has two important roles to play:
First in making more people aware of the need to early screening for colorectal cancer. Early intervention leads to better outcomes and usually a cure.
Secondly, I believe it helps us nudge the medical community into looking outside the box. Without patients pushing some boundaries, in a gentle and tactful way, I don’t believe we would see the same level of progress in development of new treatment options.
Keep up the valuable work!
On Sunday, April 24, 2016 at 8:00 a.m. the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada (CCAC) will be once again taking part in its second annual BUM RUN, a 5 km walk/run event to raise awareness of colorectal cancer – which is the second leading cause of cancer death in Canada. BUM RUN was founded by Dr. Ian Bookman, a gastroenterologist in Toronto who shares the CCAC’s passion of raising awareness of colorectal cancer screening. This event is intended for all ages and fitness levels, so it’s a great opportunity to plan a family day or a group of friends, while raising much needed funds for the CCAC.
This is the second year that the CCAC will be participating in the event and benefiting from the proceeds raised at the event. Hence, we truly need everyone’s help to make this a significant fundraising initiative for us in the Toronto area. The funds raised will hopefully go towards our patient support programs in Canada and will go a long way in helping to support patients and caregivers. Our support programs are critically important to patients and caregivers and I must say, to me as well, and it is my fervent desire to continue to provide these programs to those afflicted with this insidious disease. But we need everyone’s support to be able to do so by participating in events such as BUM RUN.
This run is for Marie Taurasi:
She’s behind the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada!
“This is not an “old person’s disease.” If you are having any types of symptoms – go and have yourself checked. This is what saved me – a colonoscopy.” said Marie Taurasi
Marie was diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer on January 19, 2015. She had a temporary ileostomy put in on February 6, 2015, and is now undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Marie is grateful for the help and support of the Colorectal Association of Canada for educating and guiding her through this journey.
How to participate in BUM RUN – Two ways:
1. Participate in BUM RUN by actually walking or running on April 24th. Please register for the event by following some simple instructions that appear below. Event facilitators have made the registration process so easy this year. After registering, you can then contact everyone you know to urge them to pledge a donation on your personal fundraising page. When you contact people to pledge in your name, the easiest way is to provide them with the link to your personal homepage. It is important that they select the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada when they are asked to select the charity to donate to. By way of example, below is the link to my personal homepage to give you an idea of how you might want to set up your own homepage:
2. OR, if you are not able to walk or run in the actual event because you live in Montreal, perhaps you can support me by pledging to my fundraising page. Any amount is truly appreciated! Just click on the link above and it will take you directly to my fundraising page where a donation can be made. This is another way in which you can be a part of BUM RUN!
This will be a highly visible event, starting at Queen’s Park Circle. The event is organized with the cooperation of the City of Toronto, local City Councilors and the Sergeant of Arms of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. I will be there and it is my sincere hope that everyone I know will be there too supporting this huge cause on the 24th of April. Should you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact me for I am happy to help. This is truly a wonderful event that promises to garner much attention and more importantly will promote awareness and education of a disease that robs too many families of their loved ones. The funds raised will allow us to continue to do the good work we do on a daily basis. So let’s get registered shall we, secure those pledges and show up on the 24th of April to do our part for those who can’t!
How to Register as a Participant for BUM RUN 2016
1. Go to: http://bumrun.com/ and press the blue REGISTER tab in the top right hand corner
2. Register by clicking on “SIGN UP” in the left hand column
3. On the next page, press the blue “CREATE NEW ACCOUNT” button or you can also register using your Facebook account with the “Log in with Facebook” button on the right.
4. You then select the event/city you are registering for (there is only one choice “Toronto, ON”). You then select “Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada” from the list of charities.
5. Read the waiver then check off “I accept the waiver”
6. The next page asks whether you want to register as an individual, join a team or create a team. Most of you will probably register as an individual, however, forming a team can be an opportunity to participate with friends and family.
7. You then continue to provide your contact information and credit card information.
8. You will then be prompted to create your fundraising page. We urge you to personalize your page as much as possible.
***When you contact people to pledge in your name, the easiest way is to provide them with the link to your personal homepage. You can also send e-mails directly from your fundraising page and they will automatically be given the link to donate.
While Canadians’ are becoming more and more health conscious, many are still not making the connection between healthy eating and the potential prevention of certain cancers, a recent IPSOS conducted for the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada (CCAC) and Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) study has found. Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month made be behind us but we still need to create opportunities to discuss prevention tactics for the second deadliest type of cancer.
DID YOU KNOW:
Colorectal cancer is the number one cancer that can be prevented through maintaining a healthy diet. There are a multitude of ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle and ensure an adequate nutritional intake, including using the Get Enough Helper App. This story would include a recipe.
According to Ipsos survey results, lifestyle habits are perceived to make up 38% of the general factor share that lead to risk in developing colorectal cancer. Of that 38%, only 27% is attributed to diet. This low perception of the impact that diet has on developing colorectal cancer is something that should be highlighted, with offering the solution of increasing milk product consumption.
The collaboration between the CCAC and the DFC hopes to build awareness and increase the health of all Canadians by making sure they are “Getting Enough” of what they need. “Using Get Enough Helper app as a nutrition tracker easily helps you identify which foods you may be missing out on,” says Nathalie Savoie, RD, Dairy Farmers of Canada. “Additionally, you will have access to customized recipes that will help ensure you are consuming a balanced diet and the recommended 2-3 servings of Milk and Alternatives, such as yogurt and cheese, every day.”
What’s more, for every day you use the app, the DFC makes a $1 donation to the CCAC. Download yours today getenough.ca/app