Veterinarian Dr. Chris Eugenio of University Place got his first colonoscopy five years ago at 46, because his father and uncle have had colon cancer. That scan came back clean. The active, healthy dad of two expected the same for his second colonoscopy on September 17, 2018. This time, though, the results were different: Chris had a softball sized tumor nearly blocking his colon.
After his colon cancer diagnosis, Chris said he “cried for eight days straight, more for my wife and kids than myself.” On September 25, 2018, his tumor was removed by Virginia Mason Franciscan Health colon cancer surgeon Shalini Kanneganti, MD, at St. Joseph Medical Center.
Though his diagnosis was devastating, follow-up tests brought good news: Despite the tumor̠s large size, the cancer hadn't spread to other organs and was highly treatable. Chris opted for oral chemotherapy with Virginia Mason Franciscan Health oncologist Jorge Chaves, MD.
Currently on his third round of chemotherapy, Chris said he feels a bit tired, but otherwise healthy. Working closely with Dr. Chaves and a naturopathic physician helps him manage side effects and keep his energy up, and he's still able to care for patients at Fircrest Veterinary Hospital, the local clinic he owns.
Overall, he said, he's grateful to be alive. “Colon cancer is the silent killer, because I felt great,” he said. “I didn't have symptoms, but my colon was in severe danger of rupturing. But because we caught this in time, I'm still here for my wife and kids.”
He encourages friends, family, and veterinary patients to get a colonoscopy screening, sooner instead of later. “Please, get a colonoscopy,” he said. “If you have a history of colon cancer in your family, do it early. Start at 40. I've been telling all my friends, if you haven't had one, please go get one.”
“If you̠re going through this it really does help to have a great support system, and try not to do it alone,” Chris added. “We have a great community of support around us, and it made a huge difference. If you ever find you have cancer, reach out to people around you. It̠s made a big difference.”