Atlanta, Ga. (June 13, 2014) – John Melotte, 58, has more than one reason to celebrate this Father’s Day. He and his daughter Chelsea, engaged just two weeks ago, will join more than 600 other Piedmont Cancer patients and family members to honor fellow cancer survivors and cheer on the Atlanta Braves this Saturday, June 14.
Melotte, who is currently battling stage IIIB colon cancer, says he fights to walk both his daughters down the aisle. His eldest daughter Ashley will wed in October at the Fox Theatre. Chelsea will marry in June 2015.
“I’ve got to be here for my family, my daughters and even grandkids,” said Melotte. “Of course, I need to be here to bug my wife, too! We just celebrated our 25th anniversary last year.”
Melotte’s colon cancer diagnosis came after a routine colonoscopy. He soon underwent surgery at Piedmont Fayette Hospital where doctors removed 22 lymph nodes and nearly 12 inches of Melotte’s colon. Since then, Melotte has completed 12 rounds of chemotherapy and is about to begin radiation treatment.
“You can’t just sit at home and think about it,” said Melotte, who decided to keep working at Delta Airlines throughout treatment. “It was tough to go to work through it all but it kept me going and I’m so glad I did it.”
This year, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be 96,830 new cases of colon cancer diagnosed. Colon cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related death in men and women in the United States, affects approximately one in 20 people and the death rate has been dropping for more than 20 years.
Early detection is key to the continued decline of colon cancer death rates. Men and women with no family history of the disease should begin colonoscopy screenings at age 50. For African Americans and also for those like Melotte who had some family history, screenings should start at a younger age – around 45 years old.
In light of Melotte’s recent diagnosis, both of his daughters will get their first colonoscopies at age 40.
“Colon cancer isn’t the most glamorous thing to talk about but so many are affected by this,” said Melotte, who wants his story to be a warning to others about putting off checkups. “You’re not so busy that you can’t take a minute to think about your health.”
For more information about colon cancer or to schedule a colonoscopy screening, visit piedmontcancer.org.