About a year ago, Travis Wade of Columbus was dealing with something unusual for an otherwise healthy 35-year-old man -- colon cancer. That’s something more commonly found in persons in their 50s. This year, Wade is cancer-free thanks to excellent treatment he received here in Columbus.
Wade is being honored at this year’s American Cancer Society Crystal Ball, “A Ball To Remember,” sponsored by Columbus Regional Healthcare System. The event is set for March 10th at Rivermill Event Centre. In addition to dinner, dancing, drinks and a silent auction, the ball will feature Wade sharing his survivor story, said Elizabeth Givan, community manager of the South Atlantic Division of the American Cancer Society.
Wade, a financial consultant with CB&T and Synovus, considers himself lucky in many ways for his cancer survival story, which began just over a year ago when he experienced a persistent symptom and went for a colonoscopy at St. Francis Hospital. Because the test showed an “obvious cancerous tumor,” Wade had surgery that afternoon, performed by Dr. William Taylor at St. Francis. He had the tumor and about a foot of his lower intestine removed, Wade said.
“I was fortunate, because the position and size of the tumor allowed them to do the surgery laparoscopically,” Wade explained. He recovered quickly from the surgery and was able to go back to work within a few days.
He had a stage 3 tumor, and the cancer had spread to a lymph node, Wade said. Encouragingly, there was no sign of cancer in his liver.
Under the guidance of Dr. Andy Pippas at Columbus Regional’s John B. Amos Cancer Center, Wade underwent six months of chemotherapy. He sought a second opinion from the renowned M.D. Anderson cancer center in Texas, and they recommended the same course of treatment as Pippas. That reassured Wade that he could get the finest care in Columbus.
During the early months of his treatment, Wade could receive his treatment and go right back to work, but after a while he started having to rest more. He is extremely grateful to his team at work, Lynn Sexton, Stephanie Heard and Diane Gaus, for taking up the slack without missing a beat. Wade said he never had to worry about taking the time he needed for treatment, rest, and family because of his team and his employer.
Speaking of family, Wade couldn’t say enough good things about his wife, Mitchi, who cared for their daughters, Ruthie, 7, and Martha, 3, during his illness.
“She was caring for them, caring for me, and making sure I had the space and quiet to get rest,” Wade said, adding that she also handled all the insurance and financial aspects of his costly treatment.
Wade is honored to be selected to speak at the Crystal Ball this year. “It’s humbling,” he said, adding, “I almost feel a little guilty... I’m not just representing myself.”
Organizers hope to raise $150,000 from the ball, and anticipate 200-300 people will attend the black-tie event.
Because Wade is relatively young to suffer colon cancer, Givan said, “We want to get the message out into the community that cancer really does impact everyone.”
Although otherwise perfectly healthy people like Wade can face a cancer diagnosis, there are things you can do to lower your chances of getting cancer. A health-care professional at the John B. Amos Cancer Center, talked about some of those lifestyle choices. Lori Moser is an oncology nurse who works as a nurse navigator. She helps new patients navigate any obstacles to receiving care, such as finances and transportation.
“Prevention and early detection go hand in hand,” Moser said in a recent interview.
Among things you can do to prevent cancer, Moser said, are:
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low on fast food.
At least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise four times a week, preferably something you enjoy and will stick with.
Managing stress by socializing with friends, laughing with friends and family, and “seeking help if you feel like you need it.”
Avoid bad habits like smoking and drinking excessively. Columbus Regional offers a free smoking cessation class on Thursday evenings. Call David Fletcher for more information at 706-571-1102.
Finally, knowing your family history and detecting cancer early by having the proper screening exams such as a yearly physical, Pap smears for women, annual mammograms for women 40 and older unless the have a significant family history of breast cancer, colonoscopies starting at age 50, and prostate exams for men starting between 45 and 50.
Another recommendation Moser makes is seeing your dentist regularly. This promotes good general health, as well as dental health, and dentists have been known to make a cancer diagnosis for a patient.
If you have a cancer diagnosis, being involved in your care is important to having a good outcome. After all, Moser said, “You can do everything right and still have cancer.”
ACS Crystal Ball
When: 6:30 p.m.-midnight March 10
Where: River Mill Event Center
What: Dinner, drinks, dancing and a silent auction; Music by DNR band
To Participate: Buy a ticket or table, be a sponsor, or donate to ACS.
Contact: Visit acscrystalball.org> or call Elizabeth Givan, 706-324-4573.