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Don Rauch

Patient/Survivor Stage III Rectal Cancer Florida
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I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer stage III in April 2021. I just had a colonoscopy and was awakened and told that the doctor wanted to talk to me and my wife. He told us that he could not complete the colonoscopy because I had a mass about 4 inches in my colon close to my rectum, and he could not get the scope past the mass. He said he took a bit off for a biopsy but was 99% sure it was cancerous.

He said he was going to set me up with the best surgeon he knew at MD Anderson. I was somewhat stunned and relieved at same time of finally knowing what was wrong with me.

I had frequent bowel movements and continuing to return to bathroom within minutes of just having a bowel movement. I also had lost about 60 lbs. within just a few months and grew weaker. It became harder to do my normal work load daily.

Now, the fight was on. I met my surgeon a few weeks later. He completed a sigmoidoscopy then told me the game plan. I was going to have a CT scan, PET scan, and then meet the rest of my team.

I had four months of chemo, then two months of chemoradiation, and then surgery. I had an ileostomy then reversal surgery three months later. My body has been through a lot for the last three years, but I am a survivor.

I have LARS syndrome, painful sphincter muscle spasms at times, clusters, and neuropathy, but I have been cancer free since February 2022.

Something all members of Congress is that cancer survivors should be able to get disability. I have to work so I am able to have insurance. But it's not easy, I work through diarrhea, painful sphincter muscle spasms, and neuropathy.

My advice to people who may be afraid to seek medical advice or a colorectal cancer screening is please do not put off having a colonoscopy done. The procedure is not painful, and you are asleep. The prep is the only bad part of it, and a colonoscopy could save your life.

You do not want to do like I did and put it off until it was almost too late. You definitely do not want to go through what I and others have gone through fighting for our lives.

Keep fighting even when you are too weak from treatments, hurt too much from the pain, and are tired of being poked and prodded. Be strong. Have a good medical team and great prayer warriors as I did, and you can do anything.

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