OPINION COLUMNS

Family grateful for this anniversary

By Kristi Bennett | Published Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Monday, Jan. 30, 2012, is a day that changed my life forever.

Working on the Messenger payroll at my desk, I received a message to call my sister-in-law in Nacogdoches. During my brother’s colonoscopy that morning, a tumor was discovered. I hung up the phone and burst into tears.

Kristi Bennett and Scott Bowyer

Kristi Bennett and Scott Bowyer

How could this happen to my “baby” brother – the golfer, sports fan, bank president, little league coach, son, uncle, husband and most important, father to three precious children?

The next few days were a roller coaster ride. I cried every time I thought about him. My tears were not only for him but for my parents and our grandmothers. They would have traded places with him in an instant.

We got the test results on the tumor the day before Valentine’s. His surgeon in Shreveport, La., said the tumor was malignant and that he would undergo chemotherapy and radiation prior to surgery.

My brother, Scott, is so loved by so many people. The support he and his family received was unbelievable. He must have been on every prayer list in the state. His co-workers at the bank made a schedule to provide meals to the family every night. I felt lucky to be there to enjoy one of those wonderful meals.

We all had our fears about the aggressive treatment. Would he be nauseous? Would he miss Reid’s ballgames? Would he be able to continue working? Would the colostomy bag be removed after six months as his surgeon predicted? My sons wanted to know if he would lose his hair.

One of the worst things was living 250 miles away. I wanted to see him and talk to him in person, not just by phone calls and text messages.

His first surgery was June 8 in Shreveport. I was able to be with my parents and sister-in-law for the long wait that day at the hospital, which happened to mark Scott’s first hospital admission in his 36 years. Imagine our relief and joy when the surgeon told us the tumor was removed and lymph nodes were clear. In a week, he was back home in Nacogdoches.

Another round of chemo preceded another surgery in November. He recovered much faster from the final surgery. He was full of life and cracking jokes the day after surgery.

At this time I am proud to say that the brother I picked on my entire life, chased with a vacuum cleaner and with a meat cleaver, is now cancer-free. My boys are glad that he didn’t lose his hair, and Christmas was a very special time for our family last year.

I learned a valuable lesson: that life can change in an instant, and cancer is hard on the entire family. Cherish time with those you love. Squeeze all those visits in when you can.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women. Young adults can develop it and chances increase after age 50. If you have signs or symptoms, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor and get screened. Early detection saves lives.

It sure saved a huge part of mine.

Scott Bowyer was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at age 36. He lives in Nacogdoches with his wife, Kim, and young children, Bailey, Reid and Ryan. He is president of Commercial Bank of Texas. He is the son of Bill and Laina Bowyer of Decatur and Carol and Larry Wilson of Nacogdoches. His loving grandmothers are June Bowyer of Chico and Laverne Wiley of Decatur.

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