Nickolaus Sprague, Colon Cancer Diagnosis at 48

I was in pretty decent shape — didn’t get sick often. I had just passed the CPAT (Candidate Physical Abilities Test) in May. In November, I was diagnosed with colon cancer. My cancer was initially stage III, but it was upgraded to stage IVa after we found metastasis throughout my lymph system. In hindsight, there were symptoms, but I disregarded those as aging, diet, or colorectal issues.  

There were symptoms. I noticed changes in my stool, including blood, in some bowel movements. I wrote these off as hemorrhoids or ulcers. I also experienced occasional stomach cramping and wrote that off as possible IBS or diet issues. There was some fatigue, but again, I wrote it off as aging.  

3 Steps Detect would have absolutely helped me recognize the symptoms. I appreciate the message you folks are getting out there.

I was hospitalized after experiencing severe stomach cramps and fever. I was diagnosed with diverticulitis and sepsis due to a perforated bowel. After a laparoscopic washout, we thought that was it — change the diet a bit and continue with life. Unfortunately, until I had a follow-up colonoscopy, the tumor in my sigmoid colon went undetected due to its location.

Even seemingly minor changes in bowel habits or GI symptoms can mean something. Get a routine colonoscopy and listen to what your body is telling you. 

After my diagnosis, I learned about DetecTogether through a Facebook post. Before that, I had never heard of DetecTogether, or 3 Steps Detect.
I had a successful bowel resection of my sigmoid colon, where the tumor was removed. The chemo worked for about 6-8 months, but we are on to a second line of treatment now after inflammation of some lymph nodes was noted. Thankfully, through it all so far, I’ve been able to continue working full-time as a firefighter/Critical Care Paramedic.


  • Fatigue, cramps, blood in stool