For months, Johan dismissed the traces of red in his bowel movements.
“Because I traveled so much I didn’t know if it was because I was in India eating red curry food, or if I was in Mexico eating something with chili in it. I always made up an excuse why I was bleeding when I went to the bathroom,” he said.
After he told his wife about it, she took him to an urgent care where they confirmed that it was not chili or curry, but blood.
“Then,” said Johan, “I got an appointment for a colonoscopy, and when I woke up my wife was sitting there, and the doctor came out and they told me that I had an almost three-inch tumor on my colon. It was an awful day. That’s how I found out that I had colon cancer.”
In their very first meeting, Johan’s doctor at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University reassured him he would be okay.
“The fear changed colors from very, very dark to more of something I can manage,” said Johan.
“We discussed that his rectal cancer was in the early stages based on his imaging, and curable,” said Christina Wu, MD, Johan’s medical oncologist at Winship. “Treatment would entail surgery, chemotherapy and chemoradiation.”
Johan’s doctors at Winship told him they wanted to pursue a newer approach to treating his colorectal cancer. Instead of the traditional approach of chemoradiation followed by surgery, they would instead first treat the tumor with chemotherapy and chemoradiation, and then perform surgery only if necessary. There was a chance the tumor might even completely shrink away. Wu explained that this is the new standard based on recent clinical trials.
As it turned out, no surgery was needed because what started as a three-inch tumor on Johan’s colon disappeared without a trace.
Chemotherapy and Chemoradiation Success
Johan recalled his follow-up colonoscopy after the months of chemo and radiation treatments.
“After an hour into the procedure when I had the colonoscopy,” he said, “they woke me up and Dr. Balch was there and he told me that the tumor, he couldn’t see it. He couldn’t even see scar tissue from it. It was like it was never there.”
It was the best possible outcome.
“It was super emotional to find out that the tumor was not there,” said Johan. “I just couldn’t believe it. My wife and I were looking at each other in disbelief. We had been living with this since February, and having it just disappear was just amazing.”
Something else about his experience at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University has impressed Johan.
“What’s amazing to me,” he said, “is all the people that come through Winship. I go in there and immediately at the reception area they know my name, they greet me when I come in. I still go through the same process with getting a bracelet with my name on it, getting the paperwork, but they know me.”
Colorectal Care That Caters to You
Talk to your primary care physician about your risk of colorectal cancer and to determine if you should schedule a colonoscopy. At Winship Cancer Institute, we’re committed to advancing the standard of care for all our patients, including those diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer. Learn more about our colorectal cancer treatment program or schedule an appointment with our gastrointestinal cancer specialists by calling 404-778-1900.
About Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University
Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, Georgia’s National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, gives you access to the latest evidence-based care and clinical trials. Our experienced team sees more than 17,000 patients each year and delivers comprehensive care to every individual. At Winship, we provide more than state-of-the-art therapy; we also offer cancer prevention, treatment, survivorship and support programs to all who have been affected by cancer.