Wade Cole just celebrated his 50th birthday when he jokingly told his wife that it was time for him to get a colonoscopy.

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Wade Cole of Oklahoma City had just celebrated his 50th birthday when he jokingly told his wife that it was time for him to get a colonoscopy. “I told her, ‘that’s just what you do when you turn 50’. I had no way of knowing it would be a decision that would save my life.”
Cole wasn’t experiencing any symptoms, but made an appointment with a gastroenterologist anyway. He thought it would be a routine procedure. He never expected them to actually find anything. “The doctor came in and said ‘Wade I’m sorry, we found cancer’. I didn’t really hear anything else he said,” remembers Cole. “I just started thinking about my wife Kecia and my two girls.”
Both of Cole’s parents had recently died of cancer, so in his mind – he was just given a death sentence. “That was the only reference I had. I thought you get cancer, you die. It’s that simple.”
Cole went to see Romeo Mandanas, M.D., a medical oncologist at the INTEGRIS Cancer Institute. “Wade did the smart thing and did not put off his colonoscopy,” says Mandanas. “He was healthy, active and asymptomatic and still had cancer. Had he waited, this could have been a completely different story for Wade.”
“Dr. Mandanas told me for my type of cancer there was only one treatment and I could get it at MD Anderson or I could get it here one mile north of my house – and so I just stayed here and got my treatment close to home,” states Cole.
He underwent surgery to remove the cancer from his colon and received chemotherapy to kill the cancer that had spread into his lymph nodes. “Dr. Mandanas is amazing, I mean that man is amazing,” credits Cole. “He was the calm I needed for the storm of emotions I was feeling.”
Sheila Wilkerson was Cole’s primary nurse. He claims she was just as important to his survival as any treatment option he received. “Wade was very anxious and my heart went out to him because he is such a kind and gentle person and I just wanted to help him,” says Wilkerson. “I thought if I can get him just to smile once during the day, I’ve done my job and I’ve done it well.”
Cole beat his cancer, however he still returns to the INTEGRIS Cancer Institute every other week – not as a patient but as a volunteer. “I volunteer in the infusion center. I do odd jobs and talk to patients just beginning their cancer journey. What better place to give back than to those who took care of me?”
Cole hopes by sharing his story he can encourage others to get a colonoscopy. When colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is found at an early stage before it has spread, the 5-year survival rate is about 90-percent. When cancer has spread outside of the colon or rectum, survival rates are lower. To schedule a colonoscopy today, visit integrisok.com/colonoscopy.