Brad Davis, Colon Cancer Survivor

Brad Davis never imagined he’d be an advocate for colon cancer screening. Then again, the Columbus resident and father of four never expected to be diagnosed with colon cancer at age 47.

“Ever since this happened, I can name at least a dozen people I inspired, coerced or begged to get a colonoscopy who have,” Brad said.  “If I can help one person avoid having to go through what I did, all this is worth it.” 

Troubling symptoms

In summer 2017, having a colonoscopy was not exactly top of mind for Brad.  He was still three years shy of the recommended age — 50 — for starting colon cancer screening.  Then Brad started having loose stools and rectal bleeding.  In August 2017, he saw his internist, Alan Watanabe, M.D., of Columbus Internal Medicine.

Dr. Watanabe examined Brad and promptly referred him to gastroenterologist Patrick Barrett, M.D. for a colonoscopy.  Dr. Barrett evaluated Brad and scheduled him for a colonoscopy in September.

“I think we’re early and aggressive (with the screening) in people in that intermediate age range because if there’s a chance we can catch something early, all the better,” Dr. Barrett said.  “Because Brad is young now.  He’s got a family.  If you’re not sure about the symptoms, then you need to be sure, and the only way to be sure is to do the colonoscopy.” 

Receiving the diagnosis

During the procedure, Dr. Barrett discovered several polyps, or growths, and a large mass he believed was either “an extremely large polyp” or, more likely, early cancer.  He removed the polyps and biopsied the mass.  Three days later, Brad learned he had colon cancer.

In October 2017, David Thompson, M.D., and Michael Dorenbusch, M.D., both general surgeons affiliated with CRH, removed the cancerous tumor from Brad’s colon.  Three weeks later, Brad started chemotherapy.

“I very much appreciate, respect and value the care I received from all my providers all through this process,” Brad said.  “I could have gone to Indianapolis, but I had a great team of physicians I trusted.  I didn’t have to think twice about staying in the community for my care.” 

Back on track

Now age 48 and cancer-free, Brad feels great and is thrilled he’s back to his regular routine.  That includes spending time with his family — wife, Julie, and four daughters — working as chief credit officer for Centra Credit Union in Columbus, playing golf, and enjoying outings in his pontoon boat and community activities.

Also, he’s become an advocate for colon cancer screening and for lowering the screening age to 45.  The American Cancer Society (ACS) recently changed its recommended starting age for colorectal cancer screening to 45, instead of 50, for people at average risk.  This was based, in part, on data showing colorectal cancer rates have risen in young and middle-aged people.

“That could have led to a different outcome for me,” Brad said.  “But all is good.  If I don’t do things preventively as I age, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m being selfish.  I have a family — a wife and children I love and who count on me.  I want to be there when they graduate college and marry and walk them down the aisle.  Maybe, one day, we’ll be blessed with grandkids.  It’s selfish of me if I don’t take care of myself, and prevention is a key part of that.”

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