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See my story in ‘Stories of Hope’ at American Cancer Society website

Six months or so ago--soon after publishing my new book, The Upside of Cancer--I submitted a story about my experiences as a colon cancer survivor to 'Stories of Hope' at the American Cancer Society's website.

I had more or less forgotten about this. But then, a few weeks ago, I received a surprise email from Stacy Simon, a senior editor at the Society. It was a pretty cool surprise, I must say. Ms Simon said she would like to interview me and write a story about my cancer journey for their Stories of Hope program. (All the stories are written by the Society).

Her article is entitled 'Colon Cancer Survivor Says Routine Screening Saved His Life,' and it was posted at the ACS website on January 29. March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so the timing seems appropriate.

I'm including a link to the story at the end of this article. But basically, all you have to do is go to www.cancer.org, click on Learn about Cancer (next to the Home tab) and scroll down to Stories of Hope.

Ms Simon has done a great job and I'm honored beyond measure to be included in this ACS program, which I understand is very popular, especially among those recently diagnosed with cancer.

Here's Stacy's story:

Christopher Foster has practiced healthy habits his whole life. "I'm active. I love life. I love my wife. I love nature. I try to stay fit. I go for a walk every day and lift weights three times a week," said Foster. He also has always followed his doctor's advice for regular colon cancer screening--a decision that Foster now credits for saving his life.

The American Cancer Society recommends everyone be tested for colon cancer beginning at age 50--and even younger for people with a family history of colon or rectal cancer or colon problems that raise their risk. There are several different screening tests and Foster's doctor recommended colonoscopy for him. Colonoscopy uses a flexible lighted tube with a small camera on the end to look at the entire length of the colon and rectum.

In previous colonoscopies, the doctor found and removed pre-cancerous growths called polyps from Foster's colon.  Because of this, Foster was advised to come back for repeat testing every 3 or 5 years instead of the usual 10 years--and he did.

In November 2013, a week or so after one of these colonoscopies, Foster's doctor called him to say that a biopsy showed he had colon cancer and he would need to see a surgeon.  One month later, he had surgery to remove part of his colon.  Luckily, it had been caught early, in stage II, before it could spread to other parts of the body.  For that reason, and also because of Foster's age--he was 81--his oncologist did not recommend chemotherapy.  Instead, he is being treated with active surveillance, including regular CT scans and colonoscopies.

Foster says recovery from surgery was tough. Lean to begin with, he lost 17 pounds during his week's stay in the hospital. His biggest challenge was learning to walk normally again, but through determination and help from a physiotherapist, he succeeded. Today Foster says he feels better than ever.

"As I move forward in my 80s I find that almost anything makes me happy now: watching a bird, saying hello to a server in my favorite coffee shop, listening to sounds of a nearby creek, washing the dishes," said Foster.

Ironically, he says his experience with cancer has brought more joy into his life. He writes about it in a book that he published in order to help inspire others facing a cancer diagnosis. He credits cancer with helping him face his fears, including fear of the cancer coming back and fear of death.

"Anxiety still comes up, but I do find that the fear can actually help me uncover more of the fundamental joy of being, the joy of life itself, that for me was covered over for a lot of my life," said Foster. "I think in trying to suppress my fear, I suppressed my joy. Conversely, now that I'm facing the fear--the joy has been increasing. I'm a pretty happy guy now."

Editor's note: The article is very nicely laid out at the ACS website, and contains a number of highly useful links. To see the article at the Society's website please copy and paste the following link:

http://tinyurl.com/jylo776

As always, would much appreciate any thoughts you may have on the above. If you'd like to find out more about my book, The Upside of Cancer, available in print and Kindle at Amazon, please copy and paste the following link:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0971179638

 

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Harriet Cabelly February 1, 2016 at 11:58 am

Wonderful story with a great ending. Here’s to your continued joy and happiness in all of life’s awesome wonders and beauty.

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Christopher Foster February 2, 2016 at 10:36 am

Harriet, thank you so much for your kind words. Much joy and happiness to you too. Take care.

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Elizabeth Nunn February 1, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Well done, Chris! Good to see AMC honoring your writing.
Please keep shining that light that we know so well.

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Christopher Foster February 2, 2016 at 10:41 am

Thank you for your encouragement and support Elizabeth. I’m very glad we are sharing this journey together.It’s quite a journey, isn’t it? A bit of a challenge at times, but I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

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David Banner February 1, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Fabulous, Chris! This will be a great service to others.

Love, David

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Christopher Foster February 2, 2016 at 10:48 am

Thank you and bless you David. It’s good to walk together in this great adventure.

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CHRISTINE JONAS February 1, 2016 at 9:45 pm

That’s awesome Chris. Hope you are well.

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Christopher Foster February 2, 2016 at 10:50 am

Thanks Christine, great to hear from you. I’m doing well, thank you. Blessings.

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Stacy Simon February 2, 2016 at 12:11 pm

Chris, thank you so much for sharing your story with our readers. My hope is for it to inspire others to seek out cancer protection or early detection, and bring hope to those dealing with their own diagnosis or that of a loved one.

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Christopher Foster February 3, 2016 at 2:05 pm

It’s a delight to hear from you Stacy. Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog, and express so clearly your thoughts and hopes regarding my story. It’s a privilege to be sharing in this work with you.

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Michel Vaillancourt February 2, 2016 at 7:40 pm

Dear Christopher,
Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us through this wonderful exchange with Ms Simon. I feel it is like exorcising the past with a clear vision of love on the events.
You that always love to help people, here is a new tool to do so. Keep on biting into life with your ( Joie de vivre).
One with You,
Michel

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Christopher Foster February 3, 2016 at 2:10 pm

Michel, dear friend, every time I hear from you I am touched beyond measure. Thank you especially for your thoughts about my interchange with Ms. Simon. We’re in this together, aren’t we. I surely will do my best to keep on ‘biting into life’ and expressing the joy that is such an important part of life. Love and blessings to you.

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Carina Spring February 6, 2016 at 10:41 am

Dear Christopher, what a wonderful post – such an inspiration. Your words on the idea of fear really resonated with me. You articulated it so well – How, in order to suppress fear (and all negative emotions, really), you must suppress joy. That’s exactly what it is! I agree with you wholeheartedly – one lives most fully when one learns to be honest with oneself and feel the full range of emotions that life brings.

I also loved how you described finding joy in the smallest things. Sometimes it is in fact the smallest things that bring the most profound joy. Thank you for helping people through their difficult times with your honesty and courage. Take care!

(Ps. Speaking of honesty, a while back you had asked me where I live. I was new to blogging, so I was not sure I wanted to express that on the internet. I’ve gotten more comfortable with blogging since then, so… I am sorry for the delayed answer to your question: I am from Winnipeg, Manitoba, in Canada. Have you heard of it? I wrote a post about it recently, if you are curious.) Thanks Christopher.

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Christopher Foster February 8, 2016 at 11:22 am

Carina, you’ve made my day. So grateful to you for sharing these thoughts. I think that really nails it: if or when we try to suppress fear, even subconciously, we suppress joy. They are two ends of the same stick. Truth is I spent a lot of my life doing just this. What a relief to end that vicious circle and open our minds and hearts to an entirely new, vibrant, fulfilling experience of life, of joy, of the wonder of the moment. PS. Oh yes, I’ve heard of Winnipeg, I lived in BC many years. I’ll look for your post. Blessings and take care Carina.

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Carina Spring February 19, 2016 at 2:23 pm

Hi Chris, just wanted to let you know that I quoted you and included a link to your blog. 🙂 Take care!

Soon Wah February 23, 2016 at 7:27 am

Christopher,
The positive impact of your work is immeasurable because the human spirit is immeasurable. I am sure it will help many people who are facing the same challenges find positivity and hope. Whilst for all the other readers it will inspire us to appreciate life more and take care of oursleves better. Thanks again

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Christopher Foster February 23, 2016 at 10:01 am

Thank you for your lovely comment Soon Wah. Your words are much appreciated. How right you are, our spirit is indeed beyond measure, boundless, ageless, and forever free. We’ll never understand it intellectually but we can experience it and express it and cherish it in every moment. My love to you.

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Anne mae February 23, 2016 at 10:47 am

Christopher, you are an absolute inspiration to many people, and I want to thank you for your dispatches which are so positive and encouraging about the beauty of human life, and of living it. May god always bless you. X

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Christopher Foster March 13, 2016 at 11:58 am

Anne, thank you so much for your very kind words. I’m so sorry I didn’t discover your most welcome comment until this moment. Time seems to be going by like a speeding locomotive these days. I hope you see this and send you love and blessings.

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Christopher Foster February 23, 2016 at 9:53 am

Carina, you’re great, I hope all goes very well and send you love and best wishes from Colorado.

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