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20160620  Dan Caney  Cancer Series 0389 1200x630

Wake-up call leads to colon cancer diagnosis

“I’m happy to be alive. And my story should be a wake-up call for everybody: Start your colonoscopies at 50, when your doctor tells you to.”

Category: Cancer

Daniel Caney 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, he learned this 37-year-old man died of colon cancer before he was even old enough for a doctor to recommend a colonoscopy—a test that looks for colon cancer.

The death was a wake-up call for Caney. In fact, it made him call his doctor to schedule the test 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.”


Caney scheduled his surgery to remove the cancer, but canceled at the last minute after speaking to his son Tim Caney, a senior financial analyst at Baystate Medical Center.

Tim explained how Dr. Kelly Tyler, of Baystate Colorectal Surgery, could do the surgery using minimally invasive techniques—meaning smaller cuts which can lead to less pain and shorter recovery.

Caney needed another colonoscopy to switch to Baystate because Dr. Tyler need to complete her own testing to locate the cancerous growth. Caney said it was worth it to have Dr. Tyler and her expertise on his side. “The robotic surgery made it a lot easier,” he explains. “The healing time was a lot faster.”

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


Even before Caney had his surgery, his experience inspired his twin sister, his brother, and his friends to have colonoscopies. All received clean reports, and all pass along Caney’s story to their network of friends.

“Dan is an inspiration. He didn’t just get his cancer taken care of and move on. He now makes a point to spread the word about the importance of getting a colonoscopy,” Dr. Tyler says.

“If everybody did this, we could lower the rate of colon and rectal cancer in our communities and across the country.”

Dr. Tyler adds that people should begin having routine colonoscopies when 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 find cancer and precancerous polyps, and to stop cancer in its tracks,” she explains. “Colon and rectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in our country, and a colonoscopy is the best way to fight it.”

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

“I’m very grateful,” Caney says. “I didn’t even need to have chemotherapy or radiation. That’s how good it was that I went for the test when I did. It could have become stage 4 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 his grandchild. “I’m happy to be alive,” he says. “And my story should be a wake-up call for everybody: Start your colonoscopies at 50, when your doctor tells you to.”