April is Daffodil Month
April is the month in Canada when, after a long winter, you might hope to see daffodils popping up from the ground. It is certainly a month when you can count on seeing them on the collars of people around you – little yellow plastic daffodils that remind you of spring and renewal. The daffodil is also a symbol of courage, and calls to mind the strength and resilience of the thousands of Canadians and their families who face cancer each year. This Daffodil Month, help us promote a national conversation about cancer and about cancer screening. At Humber River Hospital, we are here to support families and provide cancer screening at our Cancer Care Centre, because we believe it can save lives.
Robert Noel Sinclair got very lucky, though at first it might not have seemed that way. He went to his doctor one day, frantic because he had a great deal of blood in his stool.
“The doctor looked at me and said I have good news and bad news,” says Robert. “The bad news is, you have colorectal cancer. The good news is, it can be cured, but we have to move fast.”
And so they did. Dr. John Hagen at Humber River Hospital cut out a lot of Robert’s colon. In the process, he also removed the cancer. This was back in August 2015. Today, Robert is cancer-free.
So how did Robert get lucky? Dr. Hagen explains.
“The cancer wasn’t found through screening. It was found because he was showing symptoms. Often in that case, it is too late. For Robert, it wasn’t. He got very lucky.”
Colorectal cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada. It is also the second-leading cause of cancer death. What sets it apart from some other cancers is how dramatically survival rates change depending on when the cancer is found.
Screening for colorectal cancer is easy. There is a home test available that checks your stool for blood. If that test shows positive, follow-up procedures such as colonoscopies may be called for. The point, says Robert Noel Sinclair, is to consult with your doctor and start using the test.
“Depending on your age and medical history, your doctor may suggest you do the test every year, or every five years. So do it. Do not rely on having my kind of luck, because it could have gone the other way for me.”