Hello. My name is Keith Wells and I am a colon cancer survivor. Colon cancer screening was not on my to-do list at the age of 44, but, life has a way of redirecting you onto a different path even when you’re not listening. I had just lost 110 pounds after suffering a mini-stroke which forced me into a physically demanding, manual labor job (I was a driver for the city’s debris and brush pickup) and was still recovering from throat cancer. By this time, my focus was on my health and family and I certainly didn’t expect another devastating discovery. After being cleared from throat cancer, the future seemed bright because I seemed to have dodged a bullet due to early detection and my next ‘check-up’ was supposed to be routine. Instead, it was everything but normal. This time we discovered colon cancer. Thankfully, because we caught it early and the cancer was minimal, it was successfully removed and I was able to recover without the use of chemotherapy or radiation.
I remember the morning I was in the waiting room before my procedure to remove the colon cancer. My family was with me and we were watching tv. Ironically, a news-worthy show came on the screen with a report that medical professionals are now recommending early screening for colon cancer at the age of 45, especially for men. The previous recommendation was 50. I remember thinking to myself, if I had not had the early screening, I would not be here today. After recovering from my colon cancer surgery and a physical shoulder injury that kept me home for several months, I thought about what these events really meant in my life. Somewhat forced to rethink my career and my future, I quit my job and started Loyal Lifts Transportation Services to provide chauffeur door to door transportation to those like me - people with mobility or disability issues in a vehicle that treats them with respect and dignity in a comfortable, safe and friendly environment. I highly encourage and recommend early colon cancer screening as part of anyone’s preventative health check-up routine and to pay attention when the road signs of life direct you on a different path.
According to the WNC Cancer Screening Initiative, colorectal cancer is largely preventable and just as Keith spoke about above, it can lead you to more miraculous things. It is estimated that 40 out of 100 deaths from late-stage colorectal cancer are preventable if all adults aged 50 and older were routinely screened. Colon cancer was the 2nd leading cause of death in North Carolina in 2012. There were 1,533 colorectal cancer deaths in 2012 and over 7,550 deaths from 2008-2012 in North Carolina. According to the 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), 70.6 percent of North Carolina adults over age 50 “ever had a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy screening for colorectal cancer.” It is estimated that between 2007 and 2011, about 40 out of every 100 deaths from late-stage colorectal cancer could have been prevented if all men and women aged 50 years or older were routinely screened.
This is why Dr. Mike Newcomer, Digestive Health Partners, and Keith Wells are so passionate about informing the public about early detection. It saves lives and prevents unnecessary pain and suffering for many families nationwide. So, what are you waiting for? Do you have a loved one that could be more informed about early screening for colorectal cancer? Join the fight and help us spread the important facts about how to battle this horrific disease.
If you are due for a screening, contacting Digestive Health Partners at 828-254-0881