A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Brotherly love: Tim’s concerned about your colon

Editor’s note: Teresa Derfus is a longtime employee of Marshfield Clinic. For Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Teresa wanted to share her brother’s ongoing story in a hope to help others realize the importance of screening.

Photo collage of cancer survivorIf you’re 50 or older and haven’t been screened for colon cancer, my brother Tim wants to talk to you.

He’d say:

  • Get your appointment for a screening colonoscopy—now.
  • Do not be afraid.
  • Don’t let the prep psych you out.
  • Don’t let your pride stand in the way of taking one of the most important tests of your life.

It’s not to nag you. He’s not that kind of guy. He says it to save you.
My dear brother Tim is 52 years old, the second youngest of seven – four boys and three girls.

Tim had his first screening colonoscopy last fall and like any brother who enjoys boy humor, he had fun with the prep, sending photos via text of the concoction he’d ingest as his dinner to get all clean inside. The yucks he shared with our brother Denny — priceless. They have righteous senses of humor and what happens to one impacts the other.

Tim was the sibling who, prior to last fall, said it was pretty amazing the seven of us are still roaming the earth and that someday he expected to get “a call.”

Who would know the call would be his own?

Tim’s colonoscopy showed stage 3 colorectal cancer. What were we all to do? This was our siblings’ first foray into something super-serious. Oh, crap.

We worked through the shock. We rallied around. Three siblings were with his wife and daughter for the first surgery. Tim would have rather been with us in the waiting room, since he knows we have fun when we’re together, even in tough circumstances.

Surgery, ileostomy, bags, reattaching plumbing (yay!!!), ports, chemo and who knows what else this next stage will bring.

Tim began chemo March 3 …  Photo collage of cancer survivor

His treatments go until mid-August and he is hopeful. He’s got the word “hope” in his house, on signs, on decorations, on Donner, on Blitzen…and our hope is that for Christmas he’ll get a clean bill of health and five years from now a totally clean bill of health for a life that will be long and healthy and fun.

He was really happy to share his story. “It would be a great story. Not just that I caught it at 50 (51 actually), but how you siblings became aware and went to get snaked!!!!”

Yes, we all went to get snaked. We’re all ok and will need to be checked more frequently, thanks to him. That’s ok.

His faith moves him on: “I am totally willing to fight cancer so you siblings of mine don’t have to. God chose me, I don’t question. Your blog isn’t about faith, but for me that’s what it’s really all about,” he said when we chatted for this column.

“A friend had shared this comment: ‘God will either make me healthy, or make me perfect.’”

His bottom line? Do the screening.

My bottom line? Make him healthy.

Teresa Derfus

Teresa Derfus is content and media relations manager for Marshfield Clinic. A former journalist, she enjoys sharing information about wellness and preventive health, medical treatments and new technology.

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