MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for men and women combined. But it is the first among non-smokers.
This weekend, thousands of people will gather in Richfield to take part in the Get Your Rear in Gear and Tour De Tush. The event raises funds and awareness about the nation’s number two cancer killer.
WCCO’s Reg Chapman has more from a mom who has dedicated her life to telling the story of her 24-year-old son, who was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer.
“Being a 25-year-old I definitely did not expect to have cancer, that’s for sure,” Chace Johnson said.
In 2012, Chace Johnson was in the toughest fight of his life. The former hockey player and marathon runner was sidelined, forced to deal with a stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis.
“There was no cancer in our family so it wasn’t even on our radar,” Johnson’s mother, Susan Pfau said.
Days before the Twin Cities marathon, Chace experienced shooting pains in his stomach. He went to the hospital to get checked out.
“The emergency room doctors said, ‘Oh, it must be internal hemorrhoids,’ sent him home,” Pfau said. “He ran the marathon a week before he got diagnosed.”
Now Chace would run a different race — a race to save his life, after Stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis.
Surgery and chemo did not help. After a three-and-a-half year battle, Chace died.
“Were seeing some increase in risk, or increase in incidents in young patients, but again it’s rare,” Dr. David Perdue said.
Perdue says there has been a 1 to 2 percent increase each year in the number of people in their 20s and 30s being diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
In rare cases like Chace, Dr. Perdue says listen to your body and know the symptoms that should prompt you to see a doctor.
“The most common presenting symptom with colorectal cancer, a lot of times it’s anemia. So people’s blood goes low because these tumors are bleeding and they start getting fatigued or short of breath,” Perdue said.
Blood in your stool should be taken seriously as well as stomach discomfort or cramping.
Susan has dedicated her life to spreading the message of getting screened to young people and their parents.
“I’d hate to see another mother lose a child at a young age because of colon cancer,” Pfau said.
Susan and her family will sponsor a team, Chaser’s Racers, in the Get your Rear in Gear and Tour de Tush this Sunday. Portions of the money raised will got to help the under and uninsured pay for screening and treatment services.