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Clint Willis

Colorectal cancer - Stage I

This testimonial includes a description of this patient’s actual medical results. Those results may not be typical or expected for the particular disease type described in this testimonial. You should not expect to experience these results.

View CTCA treatment results for colorectal cancer

Overview

My story

Too long to wait

In 2006, when I was 59 years old, I had a colonoscopy at a local clinic near my home in Evansville, Indiana. A nephew of mine had been diagnosed with cancer at age 31, and it was recommended to his family members that we all get tested for cancer. His clinicians were fairly certain that his disease stemmed from an inherited genetic mutation. We all got tested, but I was the only one who turned out to have cancer.

The results revealed colon cancer of the ileocecal valve, which separates the ileum from the colon. The doctor I was seeing at the time had discussed surgery with me, but before that could happen, I needed to have a CT scan. However, it would be 10 days before I could get the scan, and the results would take another week. At first I was doing okay with the wait, but the more I thought about it, the more unsettled I became.

I was working with a friend whose wife had been diagnosed with cancer. I called him to ask about his wife’s experience with treatment, and he said he could not recommend a better hospital than Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). They were both elated about the care she’d received. So, I called.

The Oncology Information Specialist I spoke with told me there was an opening the following week for me to come for the initial three-day consultation. All I needed to do was let them know I wanted to come. I wanted to think about it, but by the time I called back it was after 5 p.m. and it was too late to book the trip and I thought I’d be waiting all over again. But on Monday, the representative called me back and told me there’s been a cancellation for Wednesday. This time, I didn’t hesitate.

Speeding up treatment

In the car from the airport to the hospital, I met a women who had been treated at CTCA and was there for a check-up. A friend had told her about CTCA, and she’d been treated there ever since. I hadn’t realized that I was feeling worried, but hearing that story gave me the hope I didn’t know I needed.

When I got to CTCA, I met with a medical oncologist named Dr. Vashi and her husband, a surgical oncologist, also named Dr. Vashi. Because I’d had bypass surgery a year earlier, he needed to make sure my heart was in good enough condition to handle a procedure to remove the cancer. He told me he could check my heart on Thursday and, if everything looked good, do the surgery on Friday morning. And that is exactly how my treatment went; it was that quick.

Dr. Ranulfo Sanchez performed the surgery. After the procedure, he told me that the cancer was at the end of stage I, something that could not be clearly established until he got the results of my tests. I often wonder what would have happened if I’d waited for the CT scan and results at the first clinic I went to. Would the cancer have been more advanced by the time I was treated?

“Doctor, your patient will see you now”

The care at CTCA is more than medical. I had no knowledge at all of cancer and its treatment, and my doctors took whatever time was needed to explain everything to me, with the utmost care and respect.

I was sick during the chemotherapy treatment that followed my surgery, and still have some neuropathy today. Treatments to help manage the side effects didn’t help me too much, and I was relieved when it was over. But I greatly appreciated how much effort was put into making me comfortable. There was physical support, spiritual support, and activities to join in so that patients never feel like they are stuck in a hospital room.

My wife was my caregiver, and she took careful notes throughout my treatment. She cheered me on and made sure I did whatever my care team suggested. Traveling to the hospital was not a problem, although financially it can be more costly when Medicare is the insurance provider. Scheduling was a breeze—all arrangements are made with the patient in mind.

Enjoying life

Today I am feeling very well. My wife and I have gone on several trips together, visiting our granddaughter who is attending school in Helsinki, and also traveling to Israel and Hawaii in recent years. I had retired, but I went back to work because I enjoy what I do. And I make sure to go out on my fishing boat. It’s a blessing, having received such great care and now being back to fully enjoying life.

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