Sean Martin, diagnosed at 52

I was a healthy active person who rarely got sick—I was into running, playing basketball, getting outdoors, fishing, things of that sort.

The first health change I noticed was problems with sleeping. Despite exercise and good nutrition, my body was not responding in the same positive way it had a few years earlier, when I started consciously eating better and being more active. This was coupled with problems many people would simply associate with getting older.

As my concern increased, my response was simple: I would run more. Much more — sometimes up to two hours at a time without stopping, up and down hills, sometimes wearing my old military boots. Anything to make it tougher, so that I could work whatever I had out of my system. I feel like a fool writing this and admitting this, but it’s true.

When I started having obvious symptoms, I had DetecTogether’s message running through my head. It made it so that I could not ignore my symptoms. I had to reestablish a relationship with a doctor, because I hadn’t gone to one in years.

“I lived and worked for years with obvious symptoms, running against the wind as my health declined.”

My biggest obstacle was myself. My resistance was rooted in the belief that I had caused this — that many years of bad habits had resulted in this, and that it was my selfishness that caused a problem. This is why I didn’t want to know. I thought that if I was diagnosed with cancer, it meant that I had let everyone down. Plus, I was embarrassed by my symptoms, and felt really down mentally, as if I was weaker than others my age.

I used work, transportation issues and other excuses to delay getting a colonoscopy because I didn’t want to know what I already knew to be the truth. Everyone around me would tell me I was fine, but I knew something was wrong.

When I finally visited a doctor for a physical and described my symptoms, he made it sound not so urgent. But I would be lying if I told you I didn’t know. By the time I finally had a physical, I already knew something was seriously wrong.

While I described serious symptoms such as blood in the stool, I realize now, I should have been more forthcoming in explaining my overall health to the doctor. My obstacle was myself and not communicating with doctors properly, if at all. After I was diagnosed, I finally started acting like an invested patient and using what I learned from DetecTogether.

I would encourage people to be aware of your baseline health, and see a doctor if you notice a change. I lived and worked for years with obvious symptoms, running against the wind as my health declined.

Go to the doctor and once there, COMMUNICATE!! What I learned is that nobody is going to do it for you—YOU have to take that step, YOU have to force the issue and go to the doctor, and YOU have to advocate for yourself with your doctor. Don’t ignore reality like I did.


  • sleeping issues
  • blood in stool