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Erik Pontius

Patients & Survivors Stage III Rectal Cancer Texas
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Erik's Story

In June 2022, I was diagnosed with stage IIIb rectal cancer. Several months prior, I started having problems, like straining to have a BM, funny ribbon-shaped stool, lots of blood, and mucus discharge.

I, like so many others, ignored what my body was trying to tell me and passed off these symptoms with excuses such as "It's just temporary." "It's hemorrhoids." "It will go away."

Finally, after things weren't improving, I had a colonoscopy. The procedure was short. A large tumor had almost entirely blocked the rectum, preventing the scope from moving beyond it. The gastroenterologist could tell immediately that it was a malignant cancer tumor. A biopsy and pathology would later confirm her suspicions.

A subsequent CT scan and MRI revealed a 2"x3" tumor in my rectum.

In July, I started a total neoadjuvant treatment (TNT) plan — five weeks of daily radiation treatments along with a 24/7 chemo pump and later twice-monthly chemo infusions — all done upfront before surgery.

Nearly a year later, I have completed my treatment plan and have had surgery to remove all of my rectum. A pathology report revealed no sign of cancer anywhere in the tissue that was removed or the lymph nodes. All that remained that showed any indication that there had been cancer was just an ulcer where the tumor had been.

My oncologist has now declared that I am in remission.

In the middle of March, I will have a Ileostomy reversal, and I can continue to live my life.
Now, with the extra time on this earth that I have been granted, I feel the need to give back to others that have been diagnosed or haven't been so fortunate as I have been.

Erik's Advice

Early detection is critical to having a much better experience. I waited too long, and it almost cost me dearly. I was lucky enough to have been diagnosed before my cancer spread further, but it cost me a lot of trouble and stress with treatments and surgery that could have been avoided had I been screened sooner.

A good piece of advice I learned was to stay positive and optimistic. Cancer is very much a mental game as it is a physical fight. That advice stuck with me and helped me through my cancer journey.

2 thoughts on “Erik Pontius

  1. This story is almost exactly the same as mine. This past February I was diagnosed with stage 3b rectal cancer after they found the same size tumor almost completely blocking my rectum (2.5″ x 3.5″). I had the same symptoms as you as well, and finally decided to go to a doctor, which saved my life too.

    My only difference is with the treatment. I was originally set to go the same route, but testing showed my tumor is dMMR and is a good candidate to be cured with immunotherapy and the drug Jemperli. Small test groups last year reported a 100% complete response rate without chemo, radiation, or surgery, so I am very hopeful, while at the same time being incredibly nervous since this treatment is so new.

    I just had my first treatment on 3/31/23, and now is just the slow grind of medicine and time, hoping that this works. Being only 44, there hasn’t been many people to relate to, so it was nice to read this story. Good luck to you and your fight.

    – Dan in Michigan

  2. We are so proud of you Erik. You are so loved by hundreds of friends and relatives who prayed diligently for you.

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