Michael’s StoryApr 5, 2023
Colon Cancer Survivor
Colorectal cancer is something that just did not ever cross Michael Strager’s mind, at the time of his diagnosis he was 80 and lived a healthy life. During a routine wellness visit, Michael’s primary care doctor suggested he get a colonoscopy.
“I was told to get a colonoscopy by my primary care physician. Looking at my doctor, I said, I am 80-years-old. 80-year-old people do not get colonoscopies. I listened to the doctor and scheduled my colonoscopy screening. The results came back in. I visited my doctor and he said, Mike, you have cancer. It needs removal. Let’s explore your options with minimally invasive robotic assisted colorectal surgery,” Michael said.
“I had absolutely no symptoms, nothing… I was shocked that I had colon cancer. Who has that at 80?”
Michael said it was an easy decision to have this type of surgery. After receiving his diagnosis, he learned that they wanted him to have this surgery within one month.
“I found this type of surgery was right for me. In particular, the three main positives for me having robotic surgery included quick healing, reduction in infection and less pain than a normal operation,” Michael said.
Exactly one-month after a stage 3 colon cancer diagnosis, Michael underwent robotic assisted surgery with Dr. Hayder Al-Azzawi, a colorectal and general surgeon at Good Samaritan Medical Center in West Palm Beach who has completed over 1,000 robotic assisted surgeries at the hospital.
Dr. Al-Azzawi removed the cancer. Michael’s minimally invasive robotic assisted colorectal surgery qualified as a same day discharge (SDD). Advances in surgical techniques and the implementation of Enhanced Recovery After Surgery Protocols (ERAS), have decreased the amount of time patients have to spend in the hospital.
“Six inches of my colon was taken out and the cancer was removed. Then, they brought me back to my hospital room. One hour later, I am out walking the halls. I had major surgery and one hour later, I am talking to the nurses. Dr. Al-Azzawi came in the room and said, Mike, ‘you’re good to go!’” Michael said.
Traditionally, colorectal surgeries were major operations that required a hospital stay and a significant recovery period. The Robotic Surgical Institute at Good Samaritan Medical Center offers some of the latest advancements in minimally invasive, robotic-assisted procedures to our community.
“I had the surgery done and everything ran smoothly from pre-op to post-op. I did not take any pain pills. I feel great! Cancer free! I did not have to do any chemotherapy or radiation. Just the same day surgery. Who has an operation like that and goes home the same day? That is remarkable!”
A short time after discharge, Michael had a follow-up appointment with Dr. Al-Azzawi at his Palm Beach Health Network Physician Group office located in the Victor Farris Building adjacent to Good Samaritan Medical Center and was given a healthy outlook moving ahead.
Michael said he is sharing his story for colorectal cancer awareness outreach.
“I recommend that people older and younger than me get colorectal cancer screening. It is easy and you do not feel a thing. Listen to your primary care doctor and do what they tell you to do. It is never too late to have a colorectal cancer screening done. The earlier you have screening the better off you are just like breast cancer. Caught early, you have a better chance at survival. Just be cautious and be proactive,” said Michael.
“A colonoscopy saved my life. To delay it, that is being a chicken. You have to drink a little bit of liquid... So what! Come on! You can do it! It saved my life!”