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Neil Notaro

Colorectal cancer - Stage III

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

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in April 2007, just before my 51st birthday. I underwent surgery in July. I returned to work, but a week later I was having difficulty with bowel movements. I went to my local hospital’s emergency room. The attending physician sent me for a colonoscopy because no one was certain why I couldn’t have a bowel movement. But the physician doing the colonoscopy could not conduct the examination; he could not insert the tube because there was a large tumor in the way. That was when I received my second cancer diagnosis of rectal cancer.

Beginning in September 2007, I received treatment with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and then underwent rectal surgery in January 2008. After that, I was visibly free of cancer.

Recurrence

Toward the end of 2011, the rectal cancer returned. I was having blood tests and diagnostic scans done quarterly, and the cancer was discovered during one of the routine examinations.

I wanted to seek treatment elsewhere, but I wasn’t certain of where to go. I called Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) one day during my lunch hour at work. I needed to return to work before the person speaking with me had all the information she needed. She asked if she could call me back that night, and we agreed to speak at 8 p.m. I figured she would forget, but at 8:02 p.m., the phone rang. By that time, she had looked into my insurance and all other matters, and was ready to schedule me for a visit for an initial consultation.

A different experience

In early 2012, I began treatment at CTCA. I received chemotherapy and radiation therapy. A year and a half after the recurrence, a PET scan showed no visible signs of cancer. There is some scar tissue, but it’s minimal.

I work in customer service, and am well aware that this aspect of a business makes all the difference. It matters how a customer is treated. Every hospital where cancer is treated offers chemotherapy, but the way in which patients are treated—not just the cancer—can have a significant impact on well-being and recovery. Having a nutritionist and a naturopath on your care team also matters. You may not take advantage of these services, but they are available at CTCA if you want them.

There was a time when a surgery scheduled for me at CTCA was cancelled unexpectedly. I was concerned about my care, but when I mentioned this to my care team, they made it right. I was impressed.

The accommodations during my care were also wonderful. Even though we don’t live too far away, my wife and I were able to stay at the Hope Lodge near the hospital, which really helped.

A new lease on life

Six years after I was first diagnosed with cancer (the first of two cancers), I am feeling well. I have been wearing a colostomy bag for five years, but I’m used to it now. It doesn’t really impact my life in a negative way.

I met my second wife in 2007, just before I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. We married in 2009, and she has been with me as a caregiver through all of this. She was there for me.

As a cancer patient, I would say to caregivers the best things you can do are be there for your loved one and don’t give up. That’s my message to other cancer patients too: Don’t give up. This is your life. You have to learn and be proactive. CTCA encourages this approach. The doctors speak to you on a mature level. They don’t talk to you like you are a child. When you ask questions, they answer them.

Also, we need to make sure to take responsibility for our health. Through the nutritionist I worked with at CTCA, I learned how to eat healthy and why it’s important to exercise. I’m proud of the lifestyle I’m following now, and I look forward to many healthy years ahead.

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