Learn more below about Eric Gilliland, our featured Spotlight Survivor for April. We asked Eric some questions about surviving colon cancer and we’re so happy he obliged! Thanks, Eric! You kick butt!
Can you please share a little bit about your cancer diagnosis and treatment?
My doctor recommended that I have a colonoscopy after I noticed a small amount of rectal bleeding. Polyps were removed during the colonoscopy that turned out to be cancerous. The lining of my colon was perforated as a result of the polyp removal. I was in excruciating pain due to the free air from the perforation. When I called back to the GI practice I was told that the polyps were likely cancerous and that I should go to the emergency room as soon as possible. Emergency colorectal surgery was performed the next day. I was 35 years old.
How were you affected by cancer?
Cancer has affected me in a number of ways. The night I was admitted to the hospital I experienced a staggering sense of mortality. My concern for the welfare of my family was almost overwhelming. The prospect of death also forced me to reflect on the number of ways I had been blessed in my short life. The success of my surgery and non-recurrence has afforded me the opportunity to advocate for the Project and to spread the word about the value of symptom awareness.
What are a few pieces of advice you would offer to those who have recently faced a diagnosis?
I believe that understanding what you can control is very important for both the diagnosed and the family of the diagnosed. You can control attitude, fight, and the team that you employ during your fight. My wife and I remind ourselves that being your own advocate is very important in dealing with your diagnosis. Be sure to ask questions, get second opinions, and maximize the quality information you have at your disposal.
What are you proudest of?
I am proudest of being a small part of the awesome success of the Colon Cancer Prevention Project. I will continue to raise funds and awareness through my PGA Golf Day 100 Hole effort and the Colon One Golf Scramble at Audubon Country Club until we eradicate colon cancer from our state!
What are you most grateful for?
I am most grateful that I have been given over 10 years to make a difference since my diagnosis.
We’re grateful too, Eric! Thanks for all you do to kick colon cancer’s butt!
Are you interested in nominating a survivor for the “Survivor Spotlight” in the future? Email Patty Francis!