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At the Edge of a Cliff

Local father of three Joe Goode on his colon cancer diagnosis

In 2016, Joe Goode of Eatonville was raising three active boys with his wife Sarah and taking college courses in accounting. When the active, healthy 46-year-old started experiencing abdominal cramps, constipation and bleeding, he chalked his symptoms up to a possible internal hemorrhoid. But a colonoscopy performed by Virginia Mason Franciscan Health gastroenterologist revealed a large tumor nearly blocking his colon.

The scan couldn’t be completed because the tumor was too large. "It was a shock, because I hadn’t even felt sick. I was really at the edge of a cliff, and had no idea,” Joe said.

Joe’s diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer meant he’d need treatment right away; his cancer had spread to his liver and lungs, and his colon couldn’t function properly with the blockage. His Virginia Mason Franciscan Health care team performed multiple surgeries at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, including a complex surgery in August 2016 to remove his colon tumor along with 70 percent of his liver.

Between surgeries, he received targeted chemotherapy and radiation therapies from oncologist L. Katherine Martin, MD and radiologist Dennis Wang, MD, to shrink the cancerous tissue.

During his chemotherapy, Joe’s three boys picked up the slack at home, he said. “My oldest was then 12, and he would help his brothers get ready for school, make breakfast, and help any way he could. We had family and friends in the area so the boys could continue playing sports. I felt very supported.”

Joe’s Virginia Mason Franciscan Health care team expanded his circle of support, he said. “My Virginia Mason Franciscan Health doctors saved my life. I never felt like I was just a number; they really wanted to see me beat this. You become part of a team. They’re all caring, loving, very kind people, and the skills they have are amazing. They are definitely blessed, and a blessing.”

Today, he’s a strong advocate for colonoscopy screening. “Don’t wait to get it done,” he said. “Don’t wait until you don’t feel good — I didn’t feel anything, and I was at a stage 4. You’d think someone at stage 4 would be sick, but I didn’t feel sick. If I’d waited until I did, I might not be here.”

“Talking about colonoscopy can be uncomfortable, especially for guys, but there’s nothing to be uncomfortable about,” Joe noted. “The process is easy. You’re very comfortable and relaxed, then you wake up and get your results. You just have to take a day off from work, and that day off can save your life.”

Learn About Colorectal Cancer Screening