Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada - CCAC

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Survivor leads cancer fight

When Barry Stein was diagnosed with late-stage colorectal cancer, he was told he’d be lucky if he had five years to live. Even that depended on whether doctors could remove the tumour that had developed in his liver.

That was 1995 and Stein was 41. Eight years and nine surgeries later, the Montreal lawyer is still going strong.

Now president of the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada (CCAC), he’s gone after his cancer with a vengeance, fighting it every step of the way.

"It seems to be one of the few cancers you can chase," he said. "It went to my liver, I cut it out. It went to my lungs, I cut it out. I need a few more years to prove my theory, but we’ll see."

Stein says there are no rules any more when it comes to colorectal cancer. A multidisciplinary approach using combinations of surgery, chemotherapy, vaccines and new targets — including nutrition — is finding fresh means of preventing and treating the disease.

"There’s certainly no one thing right now that gives it a knockout punch, (but) all these things combined buy time," Stein said. "The more time you have, the more hope you have because new things are being developed."

If it means more time, he’s willing to try it. And so far, he said, none of it has affected his quality of life for too long. The longest he’s been out of commission is three weeks.

The past few years have been exciting for treatment, Stein said.

When he was diagnosed, there was one drug option and it had been used for 40 years.

"Now we have a buffet of things to choose from."

The second leading cause of cancer death in men and women, colorectal cancer kills 6,600 Canadians every year and sees another 17,600 diagnosed.

he disease, however, is 90% preventable and the key to prevention is screening, Stein says.

And although many may be hesitant to be screened because of the point of entry, Stein said it’s really a simple matter of life and death.

"It’s really that significant,"he said.

That’s one of many messages conveyed last night at a forum for survivors, patients and the public at the Westin hotel.

"New Frontiers" was a chance for people to have their questions answered by a panel of cancer specialists, nutritional experts and researchers.

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