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Don’t ignore the signs

March 15, 2022

Dean with his kids, Quinn and Jack.

Chris Dean had his first colonoscopy in February 2020 after finding blood in his stools.

As someone with no family history who exercised regularly and ate a healthy diet, the Buffalo Grove father of three initially wrote it off as hemorrhoids or some other benign matter.

“I didn’t really have any other symptoms,” Dean said. But when the blood got brighter, and there was more of it, he saw his primary care provider who referred him to Northwest Community Healthcare Medical Group gastroenterologist Nikos Christopoulos, M.D.

A colonoscopy lead to a detection of a stage 3 cancerous tumor that had spread to the lymph nodes.

“The diagnosis scared my entire family at first,” Dean said. “But that didn’t last long as we focused on getting through the process and putting it behind us.”

Five weeks of combined chemotherapy with radiation ensued. Dean then underwent robotic surgery with NCH Medical Group colorectal surgeon Scott Pinchot, M.D., who removed the tumor and the associated lymph nodes.

Dean had just started radiation treatment when the pandemic hit and Covid-19 testing and screening was added to the mix. “I never had any delays in my care,” he said. “The care team helped me through the whole process.”

Radiation treatment was coupled with chemotherapy by pill for 5 weeks. Chris then underwent a seven-hour robotic surgery with Dr. Pinchot, who removed the tumor and the cancerous cells.

Dean also had a temporary ileostomy bag for six months until he completed further chemotherapy after his surgery. “I’m very thankful they were able to reverse that,” he said. “Prior to surgery, there was a chance that it could have been permanent.”

Two years later, the 49-year-old is happy to share his story with the hope that it may motivate others who are reluctant to make an appointment for a colonoscopy screening.

“The first time, yeah, I was pretty nervous,” Dean said. “The actual procedure is nothing, you go in and get knocked out, and then it’s over. The hard part is the prep, but it sure is a lot easier than facing a cancer diagnosis and going through radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. A couple of hours of discomfort is worth it.”

Chris is still undergoing pelvic floor physical therapy with NCH physical therapist Kesuri Sethuraman and follows up with visits to hematologist/oncologist Urszula Sobol, M.D.*

*Dr. Sobol is an independent physician in the community with privileges at NCH. She is not an employee or agent of NCH. No two cases are the same; results may vary.

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