Ben’s Bracelets, walk-run at Duncan Park to benefit colon cancer screenings

by Symptom Advice on September 20, 2011

“he was funny — goofy funny. he loved life. he loved the water, liked motorcycles, which momma didn’t like,” Shackley said.

He enjoyed jokes. he liked to pull them, too. he would burst through a door, all 6-feet, 5-inches of him, lean against a wall and fall to the floor in laughter.

As a child, he had the occasional runny nose, strep throat and his tonsils removed. Nothing serious. he was a healthy boy.

It all changed in the summer of 2006.

Ben was diagnosed with diverticulitis. his father, Dan, remembers Ben doubled over in pain and trips to the emergency room in “unbelievable agony.”

“they kept saying diverticulitis,” Linda said.

He was on medication, but did not get better, she said.

Linda, a retired obstetrics nurse, spoke to a doctor about Ben’s condition. the doctor said he would visit Ben if his health did not improve.

Ben was admitted to the hospital in December 2006 for surgery to remove a section of colon affected by diverticulitis, Linda said.

She said the doctor told her you “could have heard a pin drop in the operating room.”

“they didn’t expect to find cancer in a 24-year-old otherwise healthy kid,” she said.

They removed 3? feet of Ben’s colon.

Ben had stage 4 colon cancer.

He coached football when he was so sick he could barely walk, Dan said. he also earned his GED less than a year before he died — going to night school while receiving chemotherapy treatment, which he had every other week for a year and a half.

He didn’t talk to his mother about cancer. Linda said the only time they discussed it was when they were informed that surgery could not be performed. Chemotherapy was no longer an option because of his weakened immune system and a diagnosis of pancreatitis, Linda said. they sat and cried for an hour. then Ben sat up in bed and told them “enough of this … let’s watch ‘Jeopardy.’ ”

He lived almost two years before he died in September 2008. Ben was just 26 years old.

The Shackleys now urge others to get screened for colon cancer. they want people to be proactive about their health and get a second opinion, or however many it takes, until they know for certain what is medically wrong.

Linda’s goal is to save one life – then another.

In honor and memory of Ben, and to raise money to fight the disease that claimed his life, Ben’s niece and nephew, Abby and Erik, make bracelets. They’ve made hundreds of them. Volunteers also make them. They’re called Ben’s Bracelets.

The idea for Ben’s Bracelets was inspired by Jo-Ellen De Luca. the 10-year colon cancer survivor spearheads the Colon Cancer Solutions Walk-Run. This year’s event starts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Duncan Park in Spartanburg.

The Shackley family will volunteer at the walk-run, cooking a whole hog for barbecue.

Admission to the fundraiser is $20. the meal is $5 per plate, which includes pork, baked beans, slaw, roll and a drink.

Money raised benefits get Checked, which provides support to those who have been diagnosed with colon cancer, have symptoms of colon cancer or lost someone to the disease. the support group, under the umbrella of the Colon Cancer Solutions, educates others and works to raise awareness about the disease.

The group also puts people who do not have health insurance or a physician in touch with organizations that can assist them in getting screened.

Dr. James Dunn, a general surgeon and colon-rectal surgeon in Spartanburg, will attend Colon Cancer Solutions Walk-Run to cheer people on and encourage them to get checked.

“I think the biggest misconception is that it couldn’t happen to me. I’m not having symptoms, so surely nothing could be wrong,” he said.

Like most cancers, colon cancer starts small and is painless, Dunn said. by the time a patient is symptomatic, the cancer may have grown awhile, he said.

It’s important to know your family history, which could put you at greater risk of developing the cancer.

The American Society estimates that 101,340 new cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed in 2011 in the United States. a colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years, beginning at age 50, by the American Cancer Society.

Dunn said a colonoscopy generally takes 20 to 40 minutes, depending on whether any polyps are found. he said there are risks of perforating the colon and a rare complication is bleeding with the removal of polyps. most people, he said, should set aside half a day for a colonoscopy.

“if you were to ask any survivor if they could have anything, it would be to turn the clock back to get an earlier screening and have a colonoscopy,” De Luca said.

She said the group wants people to get screened early so they won’t have to face major surgery, complications or death.

“the earlier the screening, the better the outcome,” she said.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: