A Seattle father of three hopes to do his part in curbing a disturbing trend: A 22-percent increase of colon and rectal cancer diagnosis in younger Americans since 2000, according to the American Cancer Society’s latest report.
“There’s a whole wave of people – young people being diagnosed with this disease,” said Jaime Froman, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of colorectal cancer in 2013. He has been a patient at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for four years. “I was diagnosed at age 47, young in relative terms. I think we need to change the view that this is just an old person’s disease. ”
Jamie hopes his sentiments will be heard during the Call-On Congress, which wraps up Wednesday. The three-day event focuses on colon and rectal cancer survivors, caregivers and loved ones from across the U.S. The event seeks to unite and amplify their voices in Washington, D.C.
Call-on Congress has specific legislative goals. The group seeks sponsors for the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act. They’re also advocating for increased investments in colorectal cancer research and protection of the Affordable Care Act.
The American Cancer Society cites an estimated 135,430 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year. It is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and men. While a drop has been driven by older adults, the incidence rates have been increasing for adults under 50, the age at which people are recommended to start screening.
The trip to the nation’s Capitol marks Jaime’s first efforts at advocacy for colorectal cancer patients and their supporters. His focus is on increasing awareness for better screening and funding for research.
Jaime said he had been suffering stomach pains for over five years when his physician sent him for a colonoscopy and an endoscopy; a colonoscopy at 40 showed no signs of trouble. This time, the endoscopy revealed .
“I hadn’t thought a lot about my duodenum and there was a lot new jargon for me. It was metastatic from the get go. So that was a big shock, what do you do? I had discussions with physicians from seven different institutions; I made a conscious choice with SCCA and UW. I was very impressed with Dr. Chiorean, my oncologist. Both the science side and the soft side are really awesome.”
Froman had originally considered starting a new advocacy group for his rare form of cancer. As many as 10,000 people are diagnosed with his particular disease annually, so there’s no foundation for his specific condition, he said. Research on support organizations led him to Fight Colorectal Cancer who Froman decided to join after talking with Nancy Roach, the organization’s founder.
“Fight Colorectal Cancer is doing things a solo patient couldn’t imagine doing in terms of advocacy and education,” Jaime said.
Said Jaime: “The goals that Fight Colorectal Cancer and I share relative to research and screening are coming into focus. I’m very hopeful.”
Learn more about Fight Colorectal Cancer and Call-on Congress here.