Bill Christian went for his first colonoscopy in 2014. He was 53 and had noticed blood in his stool, which prompted him to see his doctor. His colonoscopy revealed that he had stage III colon cancer, and his doctor in Elmira referred him to Wilmot Cancer Institute.
At Wilmot, Bill met medical oncologist Mohamed Tejani, M.D., who told him about a clinical trial evaluating chemotherapy and surgery without radiation therapy. Because radiation is often given daily for a period of time, the option appealed to Bill, who lives in Painted Post, about 100 miles from Rochester.
He enrolled in the clinical trial and started chemotherapy, driving to Wilmot for his infusions every two weeks for 12 weeks. After his infusions, he would have two days of a slow drip at home. Although he experienced some side effects, such as tingling and numbness in his fingers and toes, he was able to continue working.
The goal was to shrink his tumor by at least 20 percent so he could be eligible for surgery. His tumor shrank by about 80 or 90 percent.
In February 2015, Bill had surgery, which removed 2 feet of his lower intestines, and was in the hospital for 13 days. He had planned to have the tumor tested for any genetic mutations, but there was nothing left of the tumor to test.
Over the next few months, Bill had a temporary ostomy while his incisions healed, and he underwent another round of chemotherapy to wipe out any microscopic cancer that may have been left behind. Today, Bill continues to do well and he is thankful for the care he received at Wilmot and the University of Rochester Medical Center.
“The people were so knowledgeable and so good. Even the students had a light, delicate touch,” he says. “They were very human. That was the best part of the whole thing. They celebrated with me. They were happy with me, but there’s great science behind all this obviously. Every step of the way, they told me in advance what to expect and everything they said is exactly what happened.”
Since his diagnosis, he’s learned a few of his relatives had colon cancer, something he hadn’t realized before. His own diagnosis helped encourage members of his family to get their colonoscopies, and his children know to have them done earlier than age 50 because of their family history.