Ronald Stiffarm is a 68 year old father, grandfather, and great grandfather from Mandaree, ND. He has four daughters, seven grandsons, seven granddaughters, and one great grandson. While travelling across the plains, Program Manager, Chad Ratigan met with Ronald to hear his story about colorectal cancer screening. Collecting stories from across the Great Plains is a powerful way to promote health and preventative cancer screenings. While we may not be personally affected by colorectal cancer our communities and people we love are. This is Ronald’s journey through the colorectal cancer screening cycle.
It all started one day when Ronald was walking on the treadmill at the Mandaree Fitness Center during his routine exercise. During Ronald’s workout he walked by some ladies who were providing free colorectal cancer (CRC) screenings. They asked him if he wanted a free screening. Having said no the first time, Ronald relented the second time they asked and he decided to get his screening that day.
After completing a FIT test (Fecal Immunochemical Test) that required him to submit a sample to an area lab for testing he received his results. His test came back positive, and Ronald was immediately terrified. Ronald did not know about polyps, and he did not have anyone to talk about what a positive screening meant. From that point, Ronald went 2 weeks without talking to anyone about the topic until he scheduled a follow up to his FIT test, where he would have to get a colonoscopy.
Ronald remembers the colonoscopy going very smoothly. When he woke, the doctor was there to explain the procedure. He remembers becoming good friends with the doctor, and her complimenting him on the procedure. Ronald felt “very safe and the people there were very nice and comforting” with Ronald’s concerns. During his colonoscopy surgery, doctor removed 5 polyps, and sent them off to get checked. Ronald waited and waited for the results to come back. He was worried and thought that no news was good news. When he did follow up the clinic said they had sent a letter with his lab results.
Recently, Ronald went to another colonoscopy where his doctor found some smaller polyps, but everything was ok. Ronald never thought about going in to get screened on purpose until he met Lila and Marilyn at the screening event. He thanks them for getting him screened and he calls them life savers. Ronald remembers his father passing away from colorectal cancer in his 80’s and he now realizes how important it is to get screened for CRC.
Ronald would encourage everyone to take the FIT test and to take care of their health so that they can be here for their loved ones. As a result of his journey through the colorectal cancer screening cycle Ronald now promotes being proactive versus reactive. He also remembers the team advising him to take more fiber. As a 68-year-old man Ronald finally had his first FIT test and colonoscopy. He got lucky and did not have cancer. As Ronald reflected on his experiences with cancer screening he wished he would have started getting regular screenings for colorectal cancer much earlier in his life. Ronald says that getting a FIT test and colonoscopy set his mind at ease, and with routine screening he doesn’t have to worry. Ronald especially wants to let Indian men know that they should go get it done so they can stick around for their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. While Ronald may have been late to start on this journey he is glad he did. He is now taking care of his health and would like to help anyone he can through sharing his story.