My name is Barry Stein and this is my cancer survivor story. I was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic colon cancer in 1995. Few of us cancer survivors can forget how we felt when we were first diagnosed with cancer. I remember how I felt as if it was yesterday. I was flattened by the news. I experienced a rush of emotions and suddenly began to panic. I broke out into a sweat. I felt bombarded by information, dished out faster than I could absorb it.
I felt anger, and I felt sorry for myself. I wondered why this was happening to me, and if I would ever see my young family grow up. I tried to digest the fact that my life was suddenly threatened by a disease that came upon me silently, without any symptoms. The doctors must have it wrong, I thought. I feel absolutely normal. Surely they’ve made a mistake.
I knew very little, if anything, about cancer, but I had some preconceptions – I associated the word cancer with death. Still, when my doctor told me that the cancer had spread from my colon to my liver and that I had a thirty percent chance of surviving five years, I could not accept it. I knew 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 was determined to do as much research as I could so that I would be able to make informed decisions about my treatment. If I was more aware of the disease and had been screened for colon cancer in time, I could have avoided years of treatment and surgery and lots of pain and suffering for myself and for my family. Fortunately, things turned out just fine after a lot of hard work and some pretty scary moments and the bonus is we have seen all our three wonderful children married to great spouses and we now have two beautiful grandchildren!
My determination proved to be a very important first step in my cancer journey. Whatever emotion you may feel after a diagnosis of cancer, chances are that you will eventually face the reality of the situation and decide how you are going to fight. 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. I am the president of the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada, and we are here to spread awareness about the important of getting screened for colorectal cancer.
It doesn’t have to been a death sentence. We can make a difference together. Support us to support you!
During the entire month of March, this busy pharmacy on Montreal’s South Shore promoted colorectal cancer awareness to all their clients and employees by erecting signage and making educational pamphlets available to them. On March 18th, an information booth was set up at the entrance of the store and clients were greeted by knowledgeable staff members and a representative of the CCAC who chatted with them about prevention and screening. A raffle was held and three recipe books titled “Preventing Cancer” by Richard Béliveau were featured as prizes.
The employees were extremely enthusiastic in the preparation for this special day which was held in honour of one of their colleagues who is undergoing treatment for colorectal cancer. They exhibited their culinary skills by preparing their special dishes and serving them at a huge buffet in the employee cafeteria. The employees donated generously for the privilege of eating such a delicious array of food.
A total of $1,305.00 was collected from all the activities and was presented to CCAC representative Frank Pitman.
Thank you to all the fabulous employees and clients who contributed to making this such a special event.
As March awareness month comes to a close, we would like to reflect upon our reach and the impact these campaigns have on the lives of Canadians throughout the country. More than ever this year, the international and national community has come together to bring more awareness to colorectal cancer everywhere. We thank all of our supporters/followers for helping to spread the word and hope that you will continue to do – There is still work to be done. Continue to follow us and the social media platforms of our partners: N2Y & Foods That Fight. And continue to share, not only our content but also that of your own. Please send us private messages on any news stories that you have or survivor stories of your own. You are not alone, WE are in this fight together and will one day be able proudly say that WE BEAT THIS DISEASE TOGETHER!
The Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada would like to thank the employees of Pharmascience and Pendopharm for showing their continued support for a future free of colon cancer by participating in Dress in Blue Day at their head office in Montreal on March 17th. Over 200 employees passed by our booth to learn more about colorectal cancer prevention and screening.
Despite Canadians’ reputation for being culturally conservative — even reserved compared to other nationalities — a new survey by Ipsos conducted for the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada and Dairy Farmers of Canada has found that one in four Canadians would find the screening process for specific cancers embarrassing. With March being Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, it is the perfect time to address the importance of getting screened regularly, as 90 per cent of colorectal cancer cases can be cured when detected at an early stage. Screening is particularly crucial if you are over the age of 50 – earlier if you have a family history or other risk factors. Prevention tactics include consuming a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetable, whole grains, legumes and milk.
“The World Cancer Research Funds recognizes that consuming milk is associated with a reduced risk of developing colorectal cancer,” says Nathalie Savoie, RD, Dairy Farmers of Canada. An easy way to ensure you are consuming the recommended two to three servings is to start your day off with a dairy-rich breakfast. “Incorporating milk into breakfast items such as smoothies, oatmeal and cereal is a simple way to increase your dairy intake.”
Make sure that you are getting enough of what you need by using THE GET ENOUGH HELPER APP. This app allows you to track what you eat. Plus, for every day you use the app, Dairy Farmers of Canada makes a $1 donation to the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada.
My name is Frank Formusa. Four years ago, at age 66, I began my journey with cancer. Having a long history of Crohn’s Disease that had been in remission for several years, I was sent for a colonoscopy after experiencing periodic but more frequent stomach cramps and discomfort. To me, this was just another routine colonoscopy and I was not prepared for the doctor to tell me I had a tumour in my bowel. I thought this was the worst possible diagnosis until after my surgery when I was told there were metastases to the liver and I was now at stage 4.
The rounds of chemotherapy began. Staff were supportive, information was provided and side effects were discussed. However, it seemed a very lonely journey and there were just so many questions and seemingly few answers. Something was missing but I didn’t know what.
It was in the fall of 2012 when my Oncologist suggested that I may be a candidate for a Hepatic Arterial Infusion Pump where a small pump can be inserted under the skin to allow chemo to be delivered directly into the liver. This procedure would not be passed for use in Canada at Sunnybrook Hospital for another 8 months so the decision was made for me to have this surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York. I wrote to various Provincial and Federal agencies to advocate for the procedure to be done in Canada and in doing so, my Oncologist suggested I send a copy of my letters to Mr. Barry Stein, the CEO of the CCAC (Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada). Mr. Stein contacted me and shared his own successful personal journey with colon cancer and made my wife and I aware of the Toronto CCAC support groups conducted by Filomena Servidio-Italiano.
It was in these monthly meetings that I found what had been missing – talking to people who really understood my thoughts and concerns because they had been there, having questions answered, suggestions made and solutions found. The research portion of the meetings are invaluable as suddenly I became aware of procedures being done that I had never heard of, pilot studies of promising medications I could be a candidate for, new medications now on the market and information I needed to know to be as informed as I could be about my disease. Throughout it all, Filomena was there, in person or by email or phone to teach, to share, to suggest and to support. She made the load lighter by listening and genuinely caring.
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 because of Filomena.
My journey continues. But now it continues with people I have learned not only to share with and care for but to laugh with. What a gift!
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.
On Friday, March 4th, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. participated in “Dress in Blue Day”, an annual awareness campaign put on by the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada. Novartis associates donned various shades of blue to show their support for Colorectal Cancer patients and their families. They were also able to pick up fact sheets and information booklets so they could learn more about this deadly disease. Thank you to the 60+ employees who stopped by for a group photo and to those who generously donated to the cause.
Niagara Health System’s (NHS) Colorectal Screening Program, in partnership with Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton, brought the Giant Colon Tour to the Pen Centre in St. Catharines Ontario as part of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada’s (CCAC) pink inflatable walk-through reproduction of the human colon is 40 feet long and eight feet high. The exhibit attracted over 2,300 visitors on Friday March 4th and Saturday March 5th, 2016.
The NHS partnered with The Giant Colon Tour, an educational exhibit part of the CCAC campaign that seeks to educate Canadians that this disease is preventable, treatable and beatable.
A team of registered nurses and health promotion specialists from Niagara Health System’s Endoscopy department were on hand to offer information about screening and prevention. Dr. Meghan Davis, CCO Regional Primary Care Lead and Dr. Pierre Major, the Chair of the CCAC’s Medical Advisory Board were also on hand to speak to the numerous visitors from the Niagara Region.
The message on prevention and screening reached thousands more in the region due to the extensive media coverage that was orchestrated by NHS Communications Specialist Steven Gallagher. Below are the links to some of the coverage:
A special thanks to Ruth Peters (NHS) and Andi Sinclair (Brock University), who were instrumental in bringing The Giant Colon Tour to the region for the second time since 2010.
My name is Marie Taurasi, I am 44 years old and I was diagnosed with Stage III rectal Cancer in January 2015.
My story dates back to November 2014. I had very few symptoms, but I asked my doctor to check it out. I underwent a colonoscopy and that is when my world came crashing down. I was told that I had Stage III rectal cancer. All I could think about was my husband and two children (ages 13 and 17). What were they feeling? What is going to happen to me? My thirteen year old daughter looked into my eyes with tears and said “Mom, are you going to die?” My heart sank, my life and world as I had known it was shattered. This could not be happening to me…..Cancer??
Thankfully a friend introduced me to my “Angel”, Filomena Servidio-Italiano from the CCAC. I immediately called her and from the moment we spoke I knew I was in the best hands possible. She calmed me down and educated me on my disease, which I knew nothing about. I had heard a little about colorectal cancer, but never truly understood it. She changed all that. She then referred me to the best cancer centre and oncologists.
Once my treatment schedule was put in place, I underwent radiation and chemotherapy in March 2015. In July, I underwent surgery and had my tumour removed. After six weeks, I had some additional chemotherapy.
Filomena was there from the very beginning, offering guidance and support day and night. Without her I would not be where I am today! I am also grateful to have such an amazing and supportive husband and two wonderful children. The on-going support of family and friends has been amazing, helping me throughout this difficult time.
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. We need to educate ourselves and to be pro-active. We need to eat healthy, exercise and assume a healthy lifestyle and of course get screened, so that we can prevent colorectal cancer. Did you know that even if you had colon cancer, adopting healthy lifestyles can also help prevent a recurrence of the disease?
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. The CCAC furnishes patients and caregivers with valuable information and monthly support groups where we are able to tell our stories and receive up to date information about the most current therapies designed to help us.
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”!
“They have made a huge difference in my life……they gave it back to me!!” Now I am giving back to the CCAC by throwing them a massive fundraiser Gala on Saturday, June 4th at Le Parc Banquet Hall in Thornhill. Won’t you join me in honoring the CCAC that evening? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details regarding this spectacular event.
I was diagnosed with Stage 4 colorectal cancer in August 2005. I had surgery the following November to remove the primary tumour along with about 75 percent of my colon, followed by a full round of chemotherapy.
Then in March of the following year I had an operation to remove a metastasis in my right lung, followed by more chemo.
It was then discovered that I had an ‘inoperable’ tumour on the right side of my chest wall and although we tried a round of radiation and more chemo I was told by my oncologist that I would be considered palliative.
Until this point I was not made aware of the CCAC or their CCRAN support group that had recently been formed. I was just accepting the doctor’s prognosis verbatim. Luckily I overheard a gentleman talking in the clinic about the CCRAN information/support group and of his personal treatment. So, I asked him a few questions and he advised me to come to a meeting the following Sunday.
At the CCRAN monthly meetings each of us talk about our individual situations and then we exchange ideas of how to help each other with our struggles and speak to our successes as well. Filomena brings a wealth of research information to each meeting and brings us up-to-date and explains in detail the latest findings. We come away empowered with more and more knowledge each time.
And that is where my cancer journey got on the right track. I learned so much from that point on and never looked back. I did get the Avastin treatment in Buffalo and then I was able to get the ‘inoperable’ operation at Toronto General Hospital with Filomena’s referral to the right thoracic surgeon.
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.
I OWE THEM MY LIFE.