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Graham Bannister

Patients & Survivors Stage I Rectal Cancer

Story: "February 2018, I had a slight pain in my lower right side, similar to an exercising pain. I didn't think much of it, but I thought it could be my appendix. I decided to go to the doctor that evening. Well, that evening I had no pain, and as most men decide, I would not need to go to the doctor. However, my daughter, who was 17 at the time, insisted I go. I could see the worry in her face and hear the worry in her voice.

"I went to the doctor. As it turned out, nothing showed up in the initial check, so I was sent to have an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed a mass on my left side, which then meant a CT scan. They found a definite mass on the left and several lymph nodes that were inflamed.

"I had to be scheduled for a colonoscopy, and following that, it was confirmed that I had a cancerous growth in my left colon and would need to have surgery. The whole time my wife was by my side, and it was through her love and support, and that of my children, that I maintained my sanity.

"I approached this new 'adventure' in my life with a certain level of strength and determination. The surgery was on March 6, 2018. It was determined that cancer had not spread through the lining of the colon into the muscles. A number of lymph nodes removed all showed negative.

"I was told that I would not need to do chemotherapy or radiation therapy, but just adjust my diet and exercise regimes. I have since then made myself an advocate for colon cancer awareness by sharing my journey with many groups, businesses, and organizations. I hope to encourage people to get early screenings. I will continue to share my story whenever I can, and I want to help find a way to eliminate cancer from being a part of anyone's life. My life is an open book. Ask me anything."

Advice: "The first step is to get checked. If needed, you can start with the stool test; however, the gold standard is the colonoscopy. It is carried out easily in the doctor's clinic. You are home the same day with little-to-no side effects. I have had three now, and I have never had any issues.

"Remember colon cancer is beatable, treatable, and preventable."

-Graham Bannister

"Once detected early, it can be removed, and treatment can be very minimal in most cases. Stay positive and keep smiling through the whole process, as hard as it may seem. Take it from someone who has been there. It was through my positive attitude that I was able to handle the situation."

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