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Being Shocked into a Colonoscopy Saved Daniel Caney’s Life

It was shock that prompted Dan Caney to get his colonoscopy. And the decision probably saved his life.

Dan CaneyCaney didn’t even know his friend had a brother until he saw the familiar last name in the obituary section of the newspaper and made the connection. At the wake, Daniel learned this 37-year-old man died of colon cancer before he was even old enough to have had a doctor recommend a colonoscopy.  

This death was an awakening for Caney. It got him on the phone to his doctor to schedule the procedure he’d been putting off for nine years. At 59, Caney had his first colonoscopy and learned he had colon cancer.  

“I went to the follow up appointment after the procedure with my sister, Mary. I wasn’t even going to go,” Caney says. “I figured everything was fine. We both were so shocked when the nurse came out and said, ‘I’m sorry to give you the bad news. Your polyp was cancerous.’ I’m thinking right away, this is bad.”  

Quick Action

Indeed, the news was not good, but Caney made the decision to put his trust in Dr. Kelly Tyler, of Baystate Colorectal Surgery, and that was beneficial.  

Caney was guided by his son, Tim Caney, senior financial analyst at Baystate Medical Center. Tim talked with his father about Dr. Tyler and the robotic procedure she would use to remove a piece of Caney’s colon.  

Caney had already scheduled the surgery elsewhere on his own, but it was a traditional “open” surgery that would have required larger incisions and a longer recovery time. So, he cancelled it at the last minute.  

It required an extra colonoscopy to switch surgeons mid-process—Tyler did her own testing to locate the cancerous growth, but Caney said it was well worth it to have Tyler and her expertise on his side. “The robotic surgery made it a lot easier,” he says. “The healing time was a lot faster.”  

After the surgery, Caney took five weeks off to rest and recover before he returned to his job—painting cars at Fathers & Sons, a car dealership in West Springfield.  

Friendly Inspiration: Get Screened

Even before Caney had his surgery, his experience inspired his twin sister, his brother, and his friends to all have colonoscopies—and all received clean reports. They all share Caney’s story now, as the lesson is such a good one.  

“Dan is an inspiration because he didn’t just use his experience to get his cancer taken care of; now he makes a point to care about friends, family, and acquaintances by spreading the word about the importance of getting a colonoscopy,” Tyler says. “If we all did this, we could successfully reduce the rate of colon and rectal cancer in our communities and across the country and the world.”  

Tyler added that people should start having routine colonoscopies as soon as they turn 50, or sooner if they have symptoms such as rectal bleeding, change in bowel habits, or a family history of colon cancer.  

“A colonoscopy is a chance to detect cancer and precancerous polyps and to stop cancer in its tracks,” she says. “Colon and rectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in our country, and colonoscopy is the best way to fight it right from the start.”  

‘I’m Very Grateful’

Caney has had several colonoscopies over the past few years; the most recent one turned up a new polyp, but not a cancerous one, so he has another year before he must have another.  

The colonoscopy procedure is not as bad as people imagine, Caney adds. Before the first one, he says stayed home and watched Monday night football, drinking the prepping liquid as his beverage of choice.  

“I’m very grateful,” Caney says. “I didn’t even need to go back for chemo or radiation. That’s how good it was that I went when I did. It could have been stage four if I’d waited.”  

Caney’s son Tim and his wife are expecting their first child, and Caney couldn’t be happier that he will be around to meet this new tiny loved one. “I’m happy to be alive,” he says. “I think everybody is a little grateful over this. It’s a wake-up call for everybody: go at 50, when they tell you to.”