in May of 2014 John Cavanaugh was diagnosed with colon cancer after a routine colonoscopy.
John’s story was profiled in this Colon Cancer Coalition’s Faces of Blue article.
On my 50th birthday, I promised my wife I would make an appointment for a full physical. On May 5, 2014, my primary physician, Dr. Troy Fate, MD scheduled a routine colonoscopy. I had two polyps removed and one turned out to be cancerous with positive margins. After a consultation with Dr. Scott Brill, a Colon and Rectal Surgeon at Ohio Health in Columbus, we elected for surgery on June 6th (Lilly’s birthday). Dr. Brill found no evidence of cancer in the section removed, but one lymph node out of 13 tested positive for cancer cells. One of the risks of my operation was the possibility of a leak. Unfortunately, that occurred and I fell ill with sepsis which required a second emergency surgery. Luckily Dr. Brill is an Army Veteran with trauma experience so he was able to save my life. I needed two additional procedures to install drains for fluid build up near my lungs. My wife never left my side for a month and slept next to me on a recliner (Much like the scene where Robin Williams describes the meaning of love to Matt Damon on the park bench in Good Will Hunting).
After a several rounds of antibiotics, I recovered enough to be discharged from the hospital with a temporary ileostomy. After three weeks of intensive physical and occupational therapy at home, I was able to participate in our daughter’s wedding ceremony. Then I endured several months of chemotherapy that made me look like the main character from “Unbroken”. In December, right before my birthday and the Christmas holidays, Dr. Brill reversed the diversion and I spent much of 2015 recuperating. On May 5, 2015, Dr. Brill performed a colonoscopy which resulted in a normal finding. Later in December, I had a CT scan and received a clean bill of health. I continued to be followed closely by my oncologist with regular blood screening, but am now back to work full-time.
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Links Mention In This Episode:
The Colon Cancer Coalition: https://coloncancercoalition.org
Cancer + Careers: https://www.cancerandcareers.org/en