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Tom Reese

Colorectal cancer - Stage II

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

Video: Colon Cancer Survivor Tom

Listen to Tom's story of colon cancer survival, including how he arrived at CTCA and the success of his integrative colon cancer treatments.

No case is typical. You should not expect to experience these results.


My story

In 2006, I began experiencing some health issues. My wife, Elsie, and I didn’t think the problems were related to cancer. That was the last thing on our minds. I use a wheelchair as a result of a spinal cord injury many years ago. One day we were at rehabilitation facility to get a new prescription for a replacement wheelchair. The physician there happened to ask if I was experiencing any other issues. Elsie told him about the problem I was having, which mainly involved a discharge with a strong odor, and the doctor reacted immediately. He wanted me to have a colonoscopy. It was thought this would be related to paraplegia, not cancer.

I went to my regular physician and they ordered a full colonoscopy (since I was the “magic age of 50” anyway). Minutes after the colonoscopy was performed, the  gastroenterologist told me that I had colon cancer. He had seen many of them. He was certain.

As a 50-year-old man in good health, the diagnosis was entirely unexpected. It’s almost hard to express how much it surprised me. But I had to absorb the news fast and find out the next steps.

Sometimes the caregiver knows best

Our daughter Jennifer worked for a group of surgeons and the initial plan was for me to go there for surgery. I made an appointment and met with a surgeon there. But before I could have the procedure, I needed to get a second EKG as there was an “issue” with the first one. Until that could be rectified, there would be no surgery. I was already for the surgery and was canceled the evening before.

In the meantime, Elsie had been doing research about cancer and its treatment online.  She wanted to know what my options were. She saw the website for Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) and decided to call. She told me she had a good feeling about this place. My position was that if she was comfortable with it, then I was comfortable with it. When we arrived at CTCA®, I could see immediately that her instinct had led us to the right place.

By the way, my EKG was fine. There was an error made during the procedure. I don’t believe in coincidences and I know that the problematic EKG was designed to steer me to CTCA.

On Monday November 13, 2006, I had surgery. As I finished recuperating, my doctor confirmed that the surgery had been a success and the cancer had been removed. I received help from a nutritionist, a naturopathic oncology provider, and spiritual support in getting well. My care was well-rounded, without any gaps.

CTCA allowed Elsie to stay with me around the clock, which was also wonderful. She is a registered nurse and has solid medical knowledge, along with a deep well of empathy. I was with the best person possible for healing. CTCA took care of her, too. If she needed a break, there was someone to take her place. When she needed to go shopping for something, they took her. When my family came to visit, they were taken care of too. It was simply astounding.

Active and happy

It’s been many years now since I was diagnosed with colon cancer. I return to CTCA every year for follow-up visits. Since that surprising news many years ago, I have watched three grandchildren come into the world and one of my two children get married. Elsie and I celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary.

I am retired, but remain as active as possible. I do administrative work for a missions team and I help Elsie with some of her endeavors. Above all, I have time with my family, which kept me motivated during my treatment and still does today.

Looking back, I think our insistence on knowing our options was vital. We don’t have to listen to the first voice we hear. We can get as much information as we need in order to make a decision about our health care. They say that knowledge is power, and when it comes to cancer treatment that is absolutely true. After all, Elsie’s insistence on finding out more brought us to CTCA. I am deeply thankful for my committed spouse, family, and the care by the wonderful folks at ERMC.

Elsie’s story

I knew that something wasn’t right with Tom. He was having some bowel issues that were accompanied by an abnormal odor. Because I work as a registered nurse, I’m tuned into health issues, so I was aware that there was a problem needing to be addressed. However, cancer was not my concern.

At a visit to the doctor so Tom could get his prescription for a new wheelchair, which he uses due to a spinal cord injury, the doctor asked if Tom was having any other problems. When I told him about the issue he was having, the doctor was alarmed. He wanted Tom to have a colonoscopy right away.

The gastroenterologist who did the colonoscopy told us immediately afterwards that Tom had colon cancer. He knew the signs. He had seen enough cases in his life and he knew.

Our daughter worked for a group of surgeons who we liked, and our first plan was that Tom would undergo surgery there. The procedure had to be delayed because the anesthesiologist said Tom needed to have an EKG before he could have the anesthesia.

At the same time, I’d been doing some research online to find out what other options we might have for treatment, just in case. I read the website for CTCA and called. The Oncology Information Specialist who I spoke with was wonderful from the start. She was so kind and caring, and was immediately ready to take care of our needs. Tom and I decided to visit in person, so we made the trip from Virginia to Philadelphia. I was blown away by the experience there. Within three days, there was a plan created by a multidisciplinary team. We never went back to the other clinic. We went forward to CTCA.

A healing process

Tom had support from his entire Care Team. He was given guidance on nutrition and supplements from a dietitian and naturopath. He received spiritual support from a pastor. The technician who did the CT scans was one of the best such professionals I’ve ever encountered. There was a nurse who was not on Tom’s Care Team but who came to speak with us and check on him anyway. Tom’s oncologist and surgeon were amazing—highly skilled professionals from start to finish.

Sometimes it was hard to navigate Tom’s recovery in light of his paralysis, but that’s part of life. Because of my nursing background, I was very involved in his care. That intense care can wear you out, but CTCA took care of me. They had outings for me to participate in, and they helped with whatever I needed. They were there for me as much as they were there for Tom.

There is no need for anyone to have a date stamped on their forehead when they’re diagnosed with cancer. I would encourage anyone to seek a second opinion, and especially so if they’ve been told there’s no hope. It’s also crucial to learn as much as you can about your diagnosis. Seek options. Find out about what’s out there that could help.

I also learned how much friends and family can be part of getting well. Our circle of friends and relatives was an incredible support to us. When we came to CTCA I was adamant that I was not going to be part of any groups. But the community at CTCA also became part of Tom’s recovery and my experience, too. Healing can appear in surprising ways.

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