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Markham Rollins IV

Patients & Survivors Stage IV Colon Cancer Connecticut
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Markham's Story

My diagnosis began, like that of many others, with a random finding during a CT for what I thought was appendicitis. The ER doctor notified me that everything was normal, except they had found a mass on my lung in the top corner of the scan.

My mind began to run wild on me at that point. I rushed to get an appointment with a pulmonologist who informed me that since I wasn't a smoker and was only 38, lung cancer was almost certainly not the root cause. He sent me for a PET scan that found the cancer in my colon and my other lung. My wife was with me at this appointment and has been at every one since.

Immediately after leaving, I broke down. I wasn't sure what it meant, what my/our future would look like, what to think or feel. She kept me level-headed and has been my greatest supporter. A colonoscopy was then scheduled shortly after the PET scan, which confirmed that I had colon cancer.

We met with several oncologists and ended up choosing MSK. The initial steps involved getting a port and undergoing a lung biopsy. MSK then confirmed that I am stage IV and would begin undergoing chemotherapy, with an open-ended timeline. My wife, family, and friends are my greatest allies in this fight (even individuals with connections to them, whom I've never met, have reached out), and I cannot thank them enough for their support.

Side effects

Side effects include fatigue, bowel irregularities, and neuropathy.

Markham's advice

As scary or uneasy as it may be, trust your gut and always advocate for yourself. If something feels off, your body might be trying to tell you something. The earlier you can catch it, the better off you are, and it may save your life.

I was considered "too young" for a screening when diagnosed. If I had ignored inconvenient pain, my options might have been different. If you are able to get screened, it’s an opportunity to be proactive and possibly catch any deviations from normal sooner, making treatment likely more manageable.

Build a strong support system, keep a positive attitude, stay upbeat and keep doing the things you love to do (if possible). These have been the keys to my current progress and how I cope.

I try my best to golf at least once a week, which allows me to escape, reset my mind, and not think about what's going on internally. Leverage every available resource, and don't hesitate to lean on others or ask for help.

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