Upper Marlboro Police Chief Calvin Washington Shares his Experience with Colon Cancer to Highlight the Importance of Regular Checkups, Particularly Colonoscopies
As a municipal police chief in Prince George’s County and a dad of three, Calvin Washington was so busy with his job and family, he wanted to ignore the nagging stomach pain he was experiencing. As with many unpleasant things you’re trying to ignore, it worsened, becoming so severe, Washington knew he would have to get it checked out.
First, Washington went to his primary care doctor, MedStar physician Arnulfo Bonavente, MD, who referred him to MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center’s gastroenterologist Walid Chalhoub, MD, for a colonoscopy. His scan showed a mass that proved to be a cancerous tumor the size of an orange.
“Here’s a young, healthy, fit guy, a cop, with kids,” said Dr. Chalhoub, a MedStar Georgetown University Hospital physician who sees and treats patients at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center. “This proves you need to get yourself screened and if you have symptoms, don’t take them lightly, because they won’t go away. In this case, I had to send him to a colorectal surgeon to take out that part of his colon and now, he’s alive and he’s cancer-free.”
During Washington’s successful surgery, all cancer was removed and repaired expertly, so with time, he would heal back to normal, without needing a colostomy bag. “That day, I was nervous and Dr. Chalhoub knew I was nervous,” said Washington. “His bedside manner, the way he can calm you down, the way he said, ‘It’s going to be okay, trust me,’ was comforting.”
After surgery, Washington began six months of chemotherapy treatments with MedStar oncologist Sunnie Kim, MD, at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. “The MedStar physician group; all of you guys are just great,” said Washington. “I’d recommend this group to anybody.”
Washington is now back to normal, after months recovering and overcoming fatigue. He reports he is fully mobile with a normal appetite and desire to enjoy hunting, fishing, and kayaking, like he did before his medical ordeal.
“I would encourage people to listen to your doctor, not only listen to your body,” said Washington. “A lot of people fear a colonoscopy because people know what that means, but for those people who fear this, fear the other thing: a physician telling you that you could possibly die. I could have, but I didn’t, so don’t be afraid.”
Before a colonoscopy, patients are administered medication to relax. The instrument used during the procedure is a thin flexible tube that allows the physician to see any abnormalities that can be removed. A colonoscopy typically takes between 30 and 60 minutes.
“Colonoscopies save lives,” says Dr. Chalhoub. “People can lose their life because of ego. Take the time to become informed and educate yourself on colon cancer.”
Please visit MedStarSouthernMaryland.org/Gastro for more information about gastroenterology services and treatments.
To view Dr. Chalhoub’s Facebook Live seminar on stomach pain, recorded in the fall of 2017, visit our page here ► Facebook.com/MedStarSouthernMD.