arrow copy Created with Sketch. FightCRC Logo fcc-logo-light

David Coulter

Patient/Survivor Stage III Colon Cancer Missouri
Back to Champion Stories

I was diagnosed with stage IIIb colon cancer at age 45. I was showing symptoms, and a colonoscopy was suggested.

After waking up from the colonoscopy is when I was told there was a cancerous tumor. They waited for my wife to arrive before telling me.

My reaction? It probably isn't what you might be looking for, but it was me telling the doctor, "Well, that is less than ideal."

Mentally, I went straight to defiance. I was not going to just roll over. I was going to fight. If cancer won the battle, then I was going out swinging.

I had an example to set for my young daughters. I owed it to my loved ones to fight.

My treatments included chemotherapy and surgery, and my side effects have included LARS and neuropathy.

I felt I had two choices: 1) feel sorry for myself and say, "It's not fair," and worry myself even sicker; or 2) check the emotions at the door and attack it head on. I chose the latter.

I did my research and chose my care team, "my generals," if you will, and I followed their orders like a soldier.

Through the surgery, through each chemo session (12 of them), the recovery after chemo, I would finish one thing and say, "Alright, what's the next step?"

I never saw it as a nearly one-year process. My focus stayed on the current step, then the next step. I never looked beyond the next step.

The time for emotion was when I rang the bell. No matter how hard it gets, just get to the next step. Before you know it, you'll be at the top right where you should be.

People who are afraid to be screened need to know that the procedure is nothing: You're unconscious. There are no after effects.

The worst part is the prep for the colonoscopy, and I wouldn't call that bad. I can promise you that the inconvenience of the prep is not even close to what you have to endure recovering from surgery and chemotherapy if your cancer goes undetected.

If you have an aversion to doctors, then early detection is your friend. If cancer has set in, seeing doctors will become your new hobby.

Our members of Congress need to know that the PET-CT should be part of the diagnosis. A CT is good at a lot of things, but not at finding cancerous tumors in the colon.

The radiologist reading the CT images could not detect a 3-inch tumor that we already knew was there.

I paid for a PET-CT out-of-pocket (~$3K), and it proved crucial in my diagnosis and treatment.

It is absurd that we allow insurance companies to dictate how our medical team can treat patients, barring us from the very technology that would detect cancer (and spread of cancer) far earlier than any other method that we currently know of.

Related Stories

Patient/Survivor Stage III Rectal Cancer

Stéphanie Lévesque

Treatments, Rectal bleeding or blood in stool, Ongoing change in bowel habits, Unexplained, sudden weight loss, Chemotherapy, Surgery, Ostomy, Radiation, Early-Age Onset
Patient/Survivor Stage III Colon Cancer

Jena Sica

Side Effects, Fatigue, Treatments, Rectal bleeding or blood in stool, Early-Age Onset, Chemotherapy, Surgery
Patient/Survivor Stage II Rectal Cancer

Kara Wutzke

Ostomy, Treatments, Rectal bleeding or blood in stool, Narrow stools, Stomach cramps/bloating/fullness, Early-Age Onset, Chemotherapy, Surgery, Ileostomy, Reversal surgery