Healthbeat: Colon cancer survivor with a ‘never-give-up’ attitude shares his story

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — We’ve all heard the importance of colorectal cancer screening and how it can help prevent tragedy. A local colon cancer survivor and his surgeon are urging us to make screening for this cancer a priority, despite the pandemic.

That cancer survivor is a radio disc jockey turned event deejay and he is living proof that getting screened for colon cancer can be a life-saver.

If there’s one word that doesn’t exist in Tom Emanski’s vocabulary it’s “quit.” He’s battled cancer not once, but three times. It started in 2010 when his very first colonoscopy detected a polyp the size of a pinky fingernail.

“I was told after the first operation, you’re cured. We got it early. You’re so lucky. You don’t need chemo. Cancer is gone,” said Emanski.

But it came back with a vengeance just eight months later.

“And it turned out to be cancer outside the colon about the size of a softball and it had basically enveloped a lot of my organs.”

That’s when Geisinger Surgeon Kyo Chu entered the case.

“Despite it, you know, being near the pancreas and all the vital structures, the organs, it was localized so I was able to remove this tumor,” said Chu.

And a bit of Emanski’s pancreas, too. The Mountain Top man thought cancer was in his rear view mirror, but in 2013 he experienced an unusual pain in his back.

“And they did a PET scan and determined that the cancer had returned in what’s called the psoas muscle which is in your back and it’s typically found they said during the autopsy. We’re so lucky that we found it early.”

Emanski is now eight years cancer-free. He credits his recovery, in part, to the support of family including a son who’s a marathon runner who provided a meaningful message after one race.

Emanski says, “My dad beat cancer. Never quit.”

Always stay up to date with your colorectal screening.

“It’s so important to do colon cancer screening and catch it early before it spreads to the lymphatic channel, the lymph nodes and also the other organs,” said Chu.

“Cancer is not going to ring a bell, knock on the door or say hey, I’m here. I’m early. Take a look at this,” said Emanski.

Emanski says he gets screened every three to six months. The American Cancer Society says those of us with no family colon cancer history should begin getting screened at 45.

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