Colon Cancer Can Hit Home Anywhere
Posted October 1, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH — There has been plenty to celebrate in the world of baseball lately with heroes that seem super-human hitting record-breaking home runs. But the news of one player's personal struggle has suddenly put things in perspective.
Darryl Strawberry, who overcame a drug problem and a shattered baseball career to find success and happiness with the New York Yankees, is now facing the biggest challenge of his life - colon cancer.
Colon cancer is a disease that may not have any symptoms, and it can strike anyone, at any age. The disease can even hit young, active people including professional athletes.
It may be the biggest battle yet in Darryl Strawberry's life. He is 36 years old, and an athlete in the prime of his career with a diagnosis of cancer.
"When I heard the word cancer, I was in shock," Jerry Clowers said.
Clowers is an active 39-year-old, and in the prime of his life. He faced the same diagnosis as Strawberry two months ago.
"I would have bet everything I owned that it was just hemorrhoids," Clowers said. "I had no family history of colon cancer. I'm 39 years old. I didn't fit the profile of someone with colon cancer."
After successful surgery to remove the tumor, Clowers is on the road to recovery. He caught his cancer early by paying attention to his body and going to a specialist for a second opinion.
"I'm just really thankful that I did get a second opinion, besides my primary care physician, that led to a deeper investigation because this could have dragged on for years," Clowers said.
Dr. Herb Hurwitz is on the front lines of the battle against colon cancer.
"If you have a new symptom, a new pain or blood in your stool, those are things that should prompt any person [into] seeing your doctor early," Hurwitz said.
Dr Hurwitz says genetics play a major role in colon cancer. While you cannot change your genes, people can change their habits.
He suggests that people should have five fruits and vegetables a day, eat a low fat and low meat diet, and also go to the doctor on a routine basis.
People over 50 need to have a complete exam every year. If three or more people in the family have had colon cancer, the person should begin those exams in their 30s. Reporter: Todd HauerPhotographer: David Renner