Welcome, Medicare Nation! Today’s guest is Lee Silverstein, who is a colon cancer survivor. Lee is here to discuss the risks, prevalence, and treatments for this disease. Colorectal cancer is the most commonly diagnosed but also the most preventable through proper screening. The American Cancer Society estimates that 95,000 people will be newly diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016. Over their lifetimes, 1 in 21 men and 1 in 23 women will be diagnosed! Colon cancer is clearly not “the old man’s disease” that many of us have been led to believe. Let’s hear Lee’s amazing story!
“Over the last few years, the rates for diagnosis have remained steady, with a huge increase in the number of cases in people under age 40. It is scary, alarming, and unexplainable by doctors. I recently attended a conference on colon cancer and met a newly diagnosed 23-year-old. The common risk factors are being overweight, a lack of physical activity, a diet rich in red meat, heavy smoking and alcohol use. Keep in mind that you can have NONE of these risk factors and still be diagnosed with the disease, like what happened to me.”
“Not at all—I would love to share my story. I had NO risk factors and had just turned 50, living a very health-conscious life. I exercised regularly and was eating smart. I had a colonoscopy in March 2011, and the doctor couldn’t get the scope where he needed it to go. I wasn’t alarmed, but received a call from the doctor two days later saying I had a tumor in my transverse colon. This colonoscopy saved my life!”
“I had colon cancer and needed to have the tumor removed; the surgeon was confident that he could remove it all. My cancer was classified as Stage 2, which meant it was borderline as to whether there were benefits to undergoing chemotherapy. I got three opinions and determined that the benefits of chemo did NOT outweigh the risk. My follow-up exam included a CT scan and bloodwork, which showed a small spot on my liver. A biopsy was ordered and showed that my colon cancer had spread to my liver, even though it was a small spot and slow-growing. Surgery was recommended and chemotherapy. I went to Sloan-Kettering, which was the hospital I had been treated at as a child when I had a rare kidney cancer. The liver surgeon there was confident that I would be fine. Surgery was scheduled for January 2013 and I finished chemo treatments in August. In 2014, two small spots on my lungs were discovered. The doctor suspected that it was colon cancer that had metastasized to my lungs. He wanted to treat it with SBRT, a cyberknife-type targeted radiation procedure. In normal radiation, low doses are given over a wide area over a long period of time, with damage to the surrounding tissue. In this procedure, pinpointed high doses are given over a short time. I had the treatment with no side effects, and was even able to continue training for a race. The one spot disappeared and the other shrunk significantly. I’m not cancer-free, but I am stable. The goal of colon cancer treatment is to make it a chronic manageable disease.”
“I found this organization when I was first diagnosed. They are the largest patient support non-profit organization for colon cancer, based in Washington, DC. They do research and provide online support.”
“I started The Colon Cancer Podcast about a year ago. I interview survivors, caregivers, and medical professionals. We share stories of struggle, hope, and survival in the face of colorectal cancer.”
“These are 5K events sponsored by the Colon Cancer Alliance. We run around in our underwear! Events are held 2-3 times each month, in different cities around the country from February through October. The events are to raise funds and raise awareness of the disease.”
Find the Facebook group: Blue Hope Nation
Special Bonus! Stay tuned to the entire show where Diane Daniels answers listener questions after the interview!
Do you have questions or feedback? I’d love to hear it!
Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a 5 star rating and review in iTunes! (Click here)
Find out more information about Medicare on Diane Daniel’s website!