We are thrilled to introduce our new Executive Director, Dave Bell! Dave comes to us with more than 20 years of non-profit leadership with the YMCA. Prior to joining us at the Project, Dave served as the Executive Director of the Downtown Louisville YMCA for the past 4 years. In addition to his wealth of non-profit experience, Dave is also a colon cancer survivor. We couldn’t think of any better way to introduce him than to feature him as our September Spotlight Survivor!
He was kind enough to answer a few questions about his experience.
Can you please share a little bit about your cancer diagnosis and treatment?
I was diagnosed in April of 2015 when I was 44 years old. It was stage 3 colon cancer. Treatment included removal of my appendix and half of my colon. I am monitored every 3 to 4 months now with blood work, ct scans and colonoscopies.
How were you affected by cancer?
Outside of the physical recovery of 1 week hospital stay, [it was] 10-12 weeks post surgery recovery until I started feeling like myself again I believe the emotional effect was stronger. I am married and have 3 young children and I wanted to see them grow up. I was very active physically and this made me feel vulnerable.
What did you find was most beneficial to you while going through treatment/surgeries, etc.?
Great friends and family! Having a positive support group was instrumental in getting through this. Having a positive attitude is easier when you surround yourself with positive people.
What are a few pieces of advice you would offer to those who have recently faced a diagnosis?
Get as much information as you can, ask questions, and make sure to take a friend or family member to appointments if possible to help you understand and digest the information. Also, you are not alone and you are stronger than you probably give yourself credit.
What are a few pieces of advice you would offer to the family members of the diagnosed?
Give them space and time to process. I cried a lot early on (I am not normally a crier) and I am actually crying typing this. A cancer diagnosis is very emotional. Support them, laugh with them and surround them with positive thoughts.
What do you think is the most important thing to remember while fighting the difficult and indescribable battle with cancer?
I kept telling myself “I am strong, I am a survivor” I think being positive is such a powerful force in fighting the disease and in recovery.
What has been the toughest part of your experience with colon cancer?
Looking back it wasn’t (isn’t) tough, it has been a blessing. I have made friends through this, I am stronger because of it and I have the amazing privilege of serving with the Colon Cancer Prevention Project because of what I went through.
What are you proudest of?
I truly think I have found my purpose in life through this and that is to help others either avoid going through it, fight their way through it, and survive and thrive on the other side.
What are you most grateful for?
- What is your biggest dream today?
To watch my boys: Sam (age 6), Seth (age 3) and Corbin (age 3) grow up. Yes, I’m crying again.
Dave Bell, it’s nice to know you! We look forward to helping you fulfill your life’s purpose of helping others to avoid, fight, or beat colon cancer. You kick butt!