In August, FOX6 Meteorologist J-P Dice was diagnosed with stage two colorectal cancer. Now, he's sharing his story with FOX6 viewers in hopes that he can encourage others to get checkups and perhaps help save a life.
Stage two colorectal cancer is highly treatable and I've been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy for the past four weeks. My doctors are confident this treatment plan will eliminate the cancer.
However, I've learned that one of the dangers of this type of cancer is that it often goes unnoticed. So last week I sat down with some of my doctors to outline the signs and symptoms.
Dozens of people come to see radiation oncologist Dr. Clinton Holladay each day, but at the age of 40 with none of the risk factors, I didn't expect to be one of those patients.
Colorectal cancer is usually seen in older patients. If you're over 60 years old, eat a diet high in red or processed meats, have a family history of colorectal cancer or a history of polyps or bowel disease, you can be at risk.
I've never smoked or drank alcohol, which are two other things that put you at risk. Another every day risk factor that we all face: stress.
"I think there is no doubt stress is related. Your immune system does not work as well stressed. If you're stressed your body does not get rid of cancer cells as effectively," Dr. Holladay said.
I knew something was up when I saw blood in my stool. At first, I tried to ignore it but it was the only symptom I had. Thankfully, it nagged at me so I asked for a test called a colonoscopy.
"It's a pretty easy thing to do. You have a bowel prep the evening before. You go the next day they give you a little medicine and you take a nap. This is something that can save your life. The earlier we find it he easier we can get rid of it," Holladay said.
When I heard the diagnosis was cancer, I immediately thought the worst. Thankfully technology has advanced and my doctors are sure I can kick this.
"Back years ago everyone got a colostomy. Nowadayswe're doing a lot of conservative surgery, preoperative radiation and chemo to shrink that down so the surgeon can get a better margin and you have a normal functioning bowel," Holladay said.
The plan of attack goes like this: six weeks of radiation combined with rounds of chemo to shrink the tumor. In about six weeks I'll schedule surgery to have whatever is left of my cancerous tumor removed.
"These are very successful. If you look at the five year rate it's close to 80 percent of getting rid of these things," Holladay said.
I'm very blessed because the cancer was found early and that's key in saving my life. The treatment isn't that bad and I'll continue working up until my surgery and be back after that good as new.
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