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Cancer survivor shares journey, spreads awareness amid new statistics

Cancer survivor shares journey, spreads awareness amid new statistics
Cancer survivor shares journey, spreads awareness amid new statistics 02:08

WESTCHASE, Fla. (Tampa Bay Now) - March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month and recent statistics show a concerning trend of the cancer shifting to more advanced disease and younger individuals.

"I knew something was up," said Tim McDonald of Westchase. "I went into the urgent care. They weren't sure what it was, thought it might have been a kidney stone. Urgent care called, asked if I could come back in. And so, I remember my doctor. He came in like 30 seconds later holding one piece of paper and said, 'You have cancer'."

Colorectal Cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the U.S.

McDonald was diagnosed in 2020 after having pain in his side. The cancer spread to his liver.

"My biggest question was, 'What do I do next'. My previous oncologist told me I had three years to live. I remember when she told me that, in my head, that was her story, not mine and I'm going to find a way to beat this."

Now a stage four cancer survivor, McDonald and his wife were honored Wednesday by Hillsborough County commissioners in recognition of the impact of the disease. 

A new report by the American Cancer Society shows that individuals diagnosed with advanced-stage colorectal cancer has increased from 52% in the mid-2000s to 60% in 2019. Diagnoses of people under 55 doubled from 11% in 1995 to 20% in 2019. Research suggests that in 2023, an estimated 153,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with the disease.

McDonald is continuing treatment and raising awareness of early screening and detection, especially for those aged 45 and older.

"It's all about, like, what can I do with this moment. I always say that this is kind of a gift because most people don't get to hear what I've heard over the last two years," he said.

Following his journey with CRC, McDonald is pursuing a liver donor and transplant. Steps to reduce the risk of CRC include regular screenings, maintaining a healthy diet, and being aware of symptoms.

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