Colon cancer: It is curable

Posted: March 07, 2013

"YOU HAVE colon cancer."

These are words no one wants to hear, words that will surely change your life forever.

Tony Pace was in his 40s when he heard them. The good-natured Philadelphia native, husband and father of three is an industrial mechanic and exercise enthusiast. He is also a four-year survivor of colon cancer, who describes his journey as a "strange tale that began with a 2007 diagnosis of an infected prostate."

Just weeks after treatment for the infection, he awoke one morning and urinated only blood. Pace, a real trooper, went to work that Friday and Saturday.

He finally went to the doctor on Monday, where he was told there was a hole in his bowel and "by the way, you have cancer."

A series of surgeries followed over several years. Doctors eventually removed his colon, half his bladder and part of his kidney. They replaced his urethra line, removed most of his gall bladder and his appendix.

And, as if that were not enough, the regimen of chemotherapy made him an insulin-dependent diabetic.

Did we tell you that Pace was good-natured?

Now 53, he's taken it all in stride. "There's nothing you can do but laugh," he said. And one more thing:

"Get screened [a colonoscopy, as recommended for your age group]. Beyond that, it's nothing to be afraid of, because [colon cancer] is curable. . . . No matter how the trip goes, you're still vertical."

As you might expect, Pace will bring his team, No Colon Still Strolling, to the "Get Your Rear in Gear - Philadelphia 10K/5K, 2 Mile Walk & Kids' Fun Run" to fight colon cancer on March 17 at Memorial Hall, in Fairmount Park.

You're invited, too.

Get Your Rear in Gear's Philadelphia branch was started by Mount Laurel resident Maria Grasso, who lost her father and grandfather to colon cancer. Grasso wants to get the word out that early detection can make a difference in colon cancer survival.

"The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 142,000 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer and as many as 50,000 die each year," Grasso said. "Survival is as high as 90 percent if colon cancer is found early.

"We hope that people get the message that early screening is critical. If they do, we can change the statistics."


Preregistration and details on the event, gyrig.com/events/list/ 2013/philadelphia. On-site registration begins at 7:30 a.m. March 17 at Memorial Hall.

This is a USA Track & Field certified course for runners.

Find out more on the Get Your Rear in Gear organization at getyourrearingear.com.

Kimberly Garrison is a wellness coach and owner of One on One Ultimate Fitness, in Philadelphia. Her column appears Wednesdays.

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