Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer among men and women in this country. The patient you will see in this story is a familiar state leader and he is very forthcoming about having this type of cancer because he wants to get the word out about the importance of screening. Nancy Naeve Brown has more on Representative Manny Steele's fight against rectal cancer.
State Majority Whip Manny Steele from Sioux Falls has missed the first couple of weeks of the 2012 legislative session for a really good reason; so he could do daily radiation therapy sessions here at the Avera Cancer Institute. This otherwise healthy 71 year old found out in December of 2011 he had rectal cancer.
Manny Steele says, "I was just going along with my daily activities but I had diarrhea. I would take something for it and it would briefly go away but kept coming back. This went on a couple of months so I said I better check it out with my doctor."
His doctor discovered blood in his stool a colonoscopy and cat scan confirmed a tumor. Avera McKennan has a multidisciplinary digestive disease conference which means a whole group of specialists meets weekly to discuss new cases and collectively decides the best management for each patient's particular stage of tumor.
Radiation Oncologist Dr. Kathleen Schneekloth with Avera Medical Group Radiation Oncology says, "In his case chemo radiotherapy before surgery offers him the best chance of having a complete surgical resection and reduced risk of local recurrences as well as problems from side effects if he'd had surgery first."
Manny says, "Fortunately it's stayed local in one spot, it hasn't gone to my liver, lungs or anything else so they keyed in on that and felt chemo and radiation would be best first."
This is Manny's 23rd radiation treatment only 2 more to go.
Dr. Schneekloth says, "So our linear accelerator is programmed to deliver a tumor dose to the tumor and microscopic doses to surrounding tissues at risk."
It takes less than 15 minutes he's done it 5 days a week for 5 weeks combined with chemo pills he takes twice a day. Even though it's an aggressive treatment plan, Representative Steele says he knows he's been fortunate.
Manny says, "People should pay attention. I wasn't paying attention because I'm very healthy. I figured if I had a problem I'd know it. I didn't know so get your colon checked."
Manny Steele says it's an election year and he has every intention of campaigning in April. He now not only represents District 12 in Lincoln and Minnehaha counties he also represents every good reason to stay on schedule with your colorectal screenings.
Representative Steele's headed back to Pierre on January 25th. He is scheduled for surgery in March, but is keeping his fingers crossed that the tumor shrunk enough so surgery won't be needed. We will continue to follow his progress.
For more information about the importance of colon screenings call 877-AT-AVERA (877-282-8372) or visit: http://www.avera.org/mckennan/index.aspx