My husband and I returned from a trip to Mexico in December of 2013 and I found myself violently ill with a stomach bug shortly after. I never fully bounced back from that and was generally unwell for the balance of 2014. I felt so ‘off’ that I stopped going for walks, playing baseball, riding my bike, swimming, etc. and was finally diagnosed with Celiac Disease in November 2014. I hoped within a few weeks of starting a strict gluten-free diet that I would feel like a million bucks, but the opposite happened and my symptoms seemed to get worse.
I read somewhere to see a doctor if you notice changes with your stool lasting more than a week or two, so I made an appointment to get in asap. A colonoscopy quickly followed and I was diagnosed March 12th, 2015 with Colorectal Cancer (ironically during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month). After a CT-Scan and an MRI, it was determined to be Stage 3. This meant; 5 weeks of a daily radiation/chemo pill treatment combo, bowel surgery including the addition of an ileostomy bag, followed by 3 months of chemotherapy and hopefully (under a best case scenario) a second surgery to remove the bag.
The surgery that removed a portion of my rectum determined that 1) my radiation treatment was very successful so I didn’t need the planned chemo treatment after all and 2) the ileostomy was in fact temporary. I am happy to sum up that everything turned out extremely well in my case.
How did I get through all that? While it’s hard to say because last year was a blur, but a few things are clear;
• Taking one day at a time was instrumental because the big picture was extremely overwhelming
• My Husband and Son were consistent with their love and support and helped with all the day to day things as needed
• The Doctors and Nurses that made up my ‘Health Care Team’ were phenomenal day in and day out
• My friends, family and co-workers were my never ending cheerleaders especially since I continued to work full-time during treatment, albeit from home
• I was even lucky enough to get welcomed into a support group made up of other young local Colorectal Cancer survivors that dropped everything to help me understand what to expect through every single step of my journey (and still do)
• My faith helped me to stay calm, positive and grounded
While this is very out of character for me to step out into the public eye, I am participating in Push for Your Tush locally to raise funds and awareness since I now feel compelled to share my story. Knowing that early detection is key, I ask everyone that reads this to look before you flush to understand what is normal for you and to not ignore or dismiss any noticeable changes. I looked, acted and am extremely blessed that my story/journey continues…
About Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is a malignant tumour that starts in cells of the colon or rectum.
1 in 14 men and 1 in 16 women are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year in Canada. Approximately 25,100 Canadians were diagnosed with CRC in 2015. It is the 2nd deadliest cancer, although the disease is more than 90% curable if detected early. Colorectal cancer is Preventable, Treatable and Beatable!
Colorectal cancer most often touches individuals over the age of 50 and over ninety percent (90%) of patients are over 55 years of age. Ten percent (10%) of new colon cancer patients however are under the age of 50. Individuals with certain risk factors such as a family history of polyps, colon cancer or genetic alterations, have an increased risk of developing colon cancer at a younger age. Sixteen percent (16%) of patients under the age of 40 have been reported to have predisposing factors and twenty-three percent (23%) had a family history of the disease.
Table 1: Number of new cases of colorectal cancer diagnoses in 2015 by age group in Canada
About the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada (“CCAC”)
The CCAC is dedicated to colorectal cancer awareness and education, supporting patients and their families, and advocating on their behalf. The CCAC raises awareness and provides important and practical information to colorectal cancer patients, young and old. Together with the Never Too Young (“N2Y”) coalition, we provide support and information to young patients in Canada who have experienced early onset of the disease.
The Never Too Young Coalition is 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.
As the leading national colorectal cancer patient advocacy organization in Canada, we’re dedicated to bringing together the brightest minds to increase screening and to promote equal and timely access to effective treatments to improve patient outcomes.
Symptoms of CRC
• Blood in the stool
• Narrower-than-normal stools
• Prolonged diarrhea or constipation
• Feeling that the bowel does not completely feel empty
• Abdominal pain or discomfort
• Loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss
• Constant fatigue, anemia
• Nausea, vomiting
Family History of Colon Cancer or polyps
About 10% of the population has a first degree relative with colon or rectal cancer.
First and second degree relatives (children, siblings, grandchildren, nieces, nephews) of a person with a history of colon cancer are more likely to develop CRC themselves, especially if their relative had the cancer at a young age. If several close relatives have a history of colon cancer, there is an increased risk. In view of this increased risk, both the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (CTFPHC) recommend screening as of the age 40 for these high-risk individuals or ten years earlier than the youngest age of colorectal cancer diagnosis for any affected relative.
Changes in certain genes increase your risk of colon cancer.
Hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC or Lynch Syndrome) is the most common type of inherited colon cancer, accounting for about 2% of all colon cancer cases. It is caused by changes in a HNPCC gene. If not closely monitored, most individuals with this altered gene will develop colon cancer, with the average age at diagnosis being 42-45, and 35-40% being diagnosed before the age of 40. General screening guidelines recommend colonoscopy every 1-2 years, beginning between the ages of 20-25, or five years younger than the earliest age at diagnosis in the family, whichever is sooner.
Much rarer is familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) an inherited condition in which hundreds of polyps form in the colon and rectum. It is caused by a change in a specific gene called APC. Unless FAP is treated, it usually leads to colon cancer by age 40. FAP accounts for less than 1% of all colon cancer cases.
Family members of individuals who have HNPCC or FAP can have genetic testing to check for specific genetic changes. For those who have changes in their genes, healthcare providers may suggest ways to try to reduce the risk of colon cancer or to improve the detection of this disease. For adults with FAP, the doctor may recommend the removal of all or part of the colon and rectum.
Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease
A person who has had a condition that causes inflammation of the colon (such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease) for many years is at an increased risk of developing colon cancer. Patients should therefore be screened regularly.
Other factors contributing to young-onset of colon cancer have not been definitely identified, but we do know they occur with an increased prevalence of obesity and diabetes. Factors that may increase your risk of colon cancer include:
• There is approximately two times higher risk of developing colorectal cancer later life if you are overweight or obese during adolescence.
• A diet high in red or processed meat and low in fiber, vegetables and fruits.
• Inactivity: 12-14% of colorectal cancer could be attributed to lack in physical activity
• Increase consumption of alcohol
• Racial and ethnic background
Statistics and Data
• Colon cancer incidence and mortality rates are increasing in the young-onset population while decreasing in those over 50.
• About 30% of young-onset colorectal cancer cases develop in those with a family history of the disease or genetic disposition.
• Young-onset rectal cancer incidence has increased at nearly twice the rate of young-onset colon cancer.
• About 72% of cases of colorectal cancer in young people arise in the colon and about 28% in the rectum.
• Younger adults were more likely than older adults to be diagnosed with late-stage cancers.
• Rates have been increasing in all younger age groups with the highest increases for the 15-29 years old, followed by the 30-39 years old and then 40-49.
• The increase is more rapid in males compared to females.
• Diabetes has been associated with up to a 38% increase in colon cancer risk and 20% increase in rectal cancer risk.
Research shows that a high fat diet is a risk factor for colon cancer. Some studies have also suggested that a diet high in fiber and a lifestyle that includes moderate exercise are helpful in preventing the disease. Be aware of symptoms and getting recommended screenings are key factors in prevention of the disease.
After speaking to family members and gathering your family health history, speak to your primary care provider about ways to improve your diet and lifestyle to prevent colon cancer and about scheduling preventative screenings when necessary. A healthy lifestyle and healthy body weight is important for prevention of all cancers.
• Men and women at average risk, screening should be done at least every two years starting at fifty years old with either FOBT (fecal occult blood test) or FIT (fecal immunochemical test). Positive FOBT or FIT tests should be followed up with a colonoscopy.
• Screening has the potential to prevent colorectal cancer because polyps found in the colon (precursors to cancer) can be removed during a colonoscopy screening. Furthermore, being screened at the recommended frequency increases the likelihood that when colorectal cancer is present, it will be detected at an earlier stage and is more likely to be treatable and curable.
Table 2: Canadian Colon Screening Guidelines
Tests have been developed that look at the activity of many different genes in colon cancer tumors. These tests can be used to help predict which patients have a higher risk that the cancer will spread.
Lynch Syndrome (see also previous section of genetic alterations)
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%.
People with Lynch syndrome have a mutation of the MMR gene, which means their bodies are less able to fix errors in the DNA. Consequently, a person with Lynch syndrome is more likely to get certain types of cancer. Lynch syndrome increases the risk of getting colorectal cancer by 80 percent and endometrial cancer by 60 percent. Lynch syndrome may also lead to other cancers, such as small bowel and stomach cancer. Lynch syndrome accounts for 2- 4% of all colorectal cancer cases.
Treatments and Effects
1. Newer surgery techniques:
Surgeons are continuing to improve their techniques for operating on colorectal cancers. They now have a better understanding of what makes colorectal surgery more likely to be successful.
Laparoscopic surgery is done through several small incisions in the abdomen instead of one large one, and it’s becoming more widely used for some colon cancers. This approach usually allows patients to recover faster, with less pain after the operation. Laparoscopic surgery is also being studied for treating some rectal cancers, but more research is needed to see if it as effective as standard surgery.
With robotic surgery, a surgeon sits at a control panel and operates very precise robotic arms to perform the surgery. This type of surgery is also being studied.
Different approaches are being tested in clinical trials, including:
• Five most common chemotherapy drugs: 5-fluorouracil (Adrucil, 5-fu), capecitabine (Xeloda), oxaliplatin (Eloxatin), and irinotecan (Camptosar).
• Combination of drugs known to be active against colorectal cancer, such as irinotecan and oxaliplatin, improve their effectiveness.
• Combination of chemotherapy with radiation therapy, targeted therapies, and/or immunotherapy.
3. Targeted therapy:
Several targeted therapies are already used to treat colorectal cancer, including bevacizumab (Avastin), cetuximab (Erbitux), and panitumumab (Vectibix). Doctors continue to study the best way to give these drugs to make them more effective.
Targeted therapies are currently used to treat advanced cancers, but newer studies are trying to determine if using them with chemotherapy in earlier stage cancers as part of adjuvant therapy may further reduce the risk of recurrence.
Researchers are studying several vaccines to try to treat colorectal cancer or prevent it from coming back after treatment. Unlike vaccines that prevent infectious diseases, these vaccines are meant to boost the patient’s immune reaction to fight colorectal cancer more effectively.
Because cancer treatments may damage healthy cells and tissues, side effects are common. Side effects depend mainly on the type and extent of the treatment. While many effects may be the same, there are some unique challenges those diagnosed and going through treatment under age 50 may encounter, including:
• Relationships with family and friends
• Impact on young children
• Dating issues
• Infertility issues
• Intimacy issues
• Career/workplace issues
• Financial issues
• Psychological issues
1. Ahnen et al. (2014). The Increasing Incidence of Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer: A Call to Action. Mayo Clinic.
2. McKay et al. (2014). Does young age influence the prognosis of colorectal cancer: a population-based analysis. World of Surgical Oncology.
3. Patel, P. & De, P. (2016). Trends in colorectal cancer incidence and related lifestyle risk factors in 15-49-year-olds in Canada, 1969-2010. Cancer Epidemiology.
4. Stigliano et al. (2014). Early-Onset Colorectal Cancer: A Sporadic or Inherited Disease? World Journal of Gastroenterology.
5. Alive And Kickn. (2015). http://aliveandkickn.org/
6. Canadian Cancer Society. (2016). http://www.cancer.ca/en/?region=on
7. Colon Cancer Alliance. (2016). http://www.ccalliance.org/
8. Colon Cancer Coalition. (2016). http://coloncancercoalition.org/
9. Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada. (2016). http://www.colorectal-cancer.ca/en/
10. Fight Colorectal Cancer. (2016). http://fightcolorectalcancer.org/
11. Present and Future Directions in Research. (2013). Michael’s Mission. http://www.michaelsmission.org/
12. Stop Colon Cancer Now. (2014). http://stopcoloncancernow.com/
13. What you need to know about your colon. (2013). Colon Cancer Challenge Foundation. http://www.coloncancerchallenge.org/
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!