Supporting Colorectal Cancer Charities

Archive for March 2015

The Backside Issue 8 – Meet Joseph

Meet Joseph Denny
& Team “Buttheads Unite”


Joseph is our 2015 Balanse Bum Run Ambassador for
St. Joseph’s Health Centre Foundation
(The name is just coincidence, we swear!)

“…You need to be part of
this campaign to save as many lives
as possible.
People need to hear your story.”

Joseph has undergone seven cancer surgeries for colorectal cancer and the removal of melanoma and metastatic melanoma cancers, including several large and deep ones on his scalp, the removal of the lower lobe of his lung, cancer in the groin area, and part of his ear. He has also survived two rounds of endocarditis, which left him with some neural damage and, as a result, a seizure disorder. When people ask him about his many visible scars, he always starts out by saying: ‘Well, there was this bar in Oklahoma . . . ‘


AGE: 61
HOME TOWN: Toronto

PASSION: Building & Renovating. Sometime soon I hope to be well enough to be able to build us another house (maybe in California this time).

TEAM: Buttheads Unite.  Joseph, his wife Sue and his daughter Sarah are all registered.  Sarah is running for the team.

BR: Can you tell us about your connection to one of our designated charities this year: St. Joseph’s Health Centre Foundation?

JD: I am a regular patient at St. Joseph’s Health Centre. All of the doctors and staff are great at this hospital. I have regular visits and follow-ups with several doctors in Oncology, Cardiology, Neurology, and ENT (for Thyroid). I have had several surgeries and numerous tests and scans at St. Joseph’s. I have become a regular at the CT Scan unit at St. Joseph’s after over 20 scans.

BR: You discovered you had Colon Cancer in 2007 by accident. Can you tell us what happened?

I was in the hospital for another extended stay to combat Endocarditis. I was on a large volume of antibiotics and I started to notice some blood in my stool. I was told that this was quite common as this large amount of penicillin would irritate the intestines to the point of noticing some bleeding. My wife requested that they do further investigation and I was sent for a colonoscopy. Dr. Bookman performed the colonoscopy on me. I was scheduled to have a Sigmoidoscopy – a short scope that is done lower down in the large intestine, as it was believed that the irritation would be found very close to the rectum. I was sedated but not fully sedated as it was only going to be a short scope. Dr. Bookman found the source of the bleeding from the irritation just as expected. At that point, a nurse entered the room to inform Dr. Bookman that his next patient had rescheduled. Since he had extra time, he asked me if he could proceed further with the scope, beyond the original plan. He did and after a few minutes he found a large cancer tumour. I had surgery two weeks later. I was very fortunate that it was detected when it was as it was very close to spreading.

I will always remember this incident and ask myself, “What if the next patient was ready for his colonoscopy and I was sent to the recovery room before discovering the cancer?” “What if Dr. Bookman, after finding the irritation as expected, did not ask me if he could look further?” “What if Dr. Bookman had any other reason to spend a few minutes doing some other important work rather than continuing to do an unscheduled colonoscopy on me?”

I am alive today because of the knowledge and skill and great caring of Dr. Bookman. I am alive today because he discovered this cancer just in time. I am a firm believer in having regular colonoscopies.

BR: In light of this incredible twist of fate, what message do you want the world to know about Colon Cancer?

JD: Everyone needs to know that early detection of colorectal cancer can save their lives. It is important to educate everyone on the need for regular screening. I was fortunate enough to have a colonoscopy performed on me for an entirely different reason when Dr. Bookman discovered that I had colorectal cancer. Early detection of this cancer saved my life and is the key to beating this cancer.

BR: Do you have a personal mantra?

JD: I constantly tell myself that I have a lot to live for. I keep repeating this phrase in my mind during every surgery, every test, every scan and when I am having a ‘bad’ day. I want to spend as much time as possible with my wife and daughter. I tell myself that I want to live to be the oldest person alive. I want to live to be over 112 years old. Life is filled with too many wonderful things not to do everything in your power to prevent, detect and correct medical problems.

BR: What do you think will encourage more people to participate in colorectal screening?

JD: I believe that people need to understand that they have an amazing opportunity to survive colorectal cancer if it is detected early. A colonoscopy is not as intrusive as people may think. The preparation may be a little inconvenient for some people, but as long as you keep a good magazine in the washroom everything else is easy. The process is so simple and safe and it does not hurt. The staff and nurses in the prep and recovery room are wonderful at easing any of your worries. During the procedure you are sedated enough to have a gentle nap and when you wake up in the recovery room they even give you a free apple juice. How can you beat that?

BR: How would you characterize Sarah’s running skills on a scale of Homer Simpson beginner to Tazmanian devil speed demon?

JD: My daughter ran her first 5K last summer and has embraced a healthy eating and living lifestyle. Her running skills are still closer to the beginner end but she is doing amazingly well. I am able to walk only short distances due to several other health issues.

BR: If your bum could talk, what would it say?

JD: “If you want to continue to sit on me then you must promise to look after me and have regular screenings”.

BR: You are officially a citizen of #BumNation. Is there anything you want to say to prospective Bum Run recruits?

You need to be part of this campaign to save as many lives as possible. People need to hear your story. I tell almost everyone I meet that having a colonoscopy saved my life by detecting it early (well, I do not tell them this story during dinner).

The Backside Issue 7 – Meet Richard

Richard Crouse is Behind Us.

Richard Crouse

“…my story of detection and treatment isn’t about me. It’s a more universal story and my reason for sharing it is that if this could happen to me, it could happen to you. Treat me as a cautionary tale and call your doctor.”

If you don’t know who Richard Crouse is, you probably don’t watch a lot of movies…. or you watch a lot of bad ones. He can help you with that. A Canadian pundit on all things film – Richard is a film critic, author, broadcaster, regular contributor to CTV’s Canada AM, and so much more.

In March 2014, Richard revealed his diagnosis & butt-kicking year with colorectal cancer in his regular column in the Metro News. In March 2015, for Colon Cancer Awareness Month, he’s continuing to spread the word – Colon Cancer does not have to be a feature film. We all have the power to shrink it to a credit note. By no means does it get a leading role.

This is his message but not his story.

Richard Crouse 2

AGE: 51
HOME TOWN: Toronto (by way of Liverpool, Nova Scotia and several other places)

BR: Looking back, do you think there may have been symptoms that you dismissed or was it entirely silent? Is there a family history?

RC: I’m a non-smoker, moderate drinker and I watch my diet. I even eat kale. Entire gardens of it. I’m surprised there isn’t a kale shortage in the world given the amount of it I go through on a weekly basis. When I was diagnosed with colon cancer I had no symptoms, felt fine and only went for the colonoscopy because my doctor told me I had to due to my age. He made the appointment for me, gave me the time, date and address for the procedure. If it was left up to me, I probably would have procrastinated. There’s always something better to do than have a colonoscopy… at least I thought so until I was diagnosed. These days I’m a convert and loudly preach the colonoscopy gospel to anyone who’ll listen.

On the day I had the colonoscopy, I thought it was a procedure so routine I’d be in and out and on my way in no time, like getting a flu shot or a tooth filled. I even made lunch reservations at a favorite restaurant as a reward for not being able to eat for twenty-four hours in preparation for the test.

I ended up cancelling those reservations. There is no way to prepare for the doctor squeezing your arm and saying, “I’m sorry, we’ve found a tumour.” Those six simple words went on to inform the next months of my life.

There is a history of cancer in my family. My mother died of breast cancer when she was still a young woman and my father has been troubled by melanoma, but I didn’t discover he had a colon cancer scare several years ago until long after I was diagnosed.

Bottom line (no pun intended) is that no matter your family history, or whether you are displaying symptoms or not, it’s crucial to get tested. It could save your life. It saved mine.

BR: Do you have a personal mantra that got you through diagnosis, treatment and beyond?

RC: I began the journey with the usual shock but quickly skipped ahead, past denial, to anger. I was mad that all I had worked for could possibly be sidelined by a bullet shaped tumor in my colon; a dark spot that had grown quietly and insidiously inside me for the past few years.

The anger stage was quickly replaced by acceptance after long talks with my ever-rosy girlfriend Andrea, and the cadre of doctors brought in to assess me.

I decided to live my life with as little disruption as possible. It was my way of saying “Screw You, Cancer, you’re not making the rules, I am”. Optimistic maybe, but I firmly believe that a good attitude is one of the keys to leading a healthy life even in the face of serious medical issues.

BR: If your bum could talk, what would it say?

RC: It would probably tell me to stop being a smart ass.

BR: You have had such a tremendous career to date. You say that your experience with colon cancer isn’t your story – that it is your message. If someone turned your life story into a movie, would you include your encounter with Colon Cancer and, if so, how much of your movie would you dedicate to it?

RC: It would be a footnote. At least that is my hope. I refuse to be defined by the disease. If I can encourage people to get tested, that’s great, but my story of detection and treatment isn’t about me. It’s a more universal story and my reason for sharing it is that if this could happen to me, it could happen to you. Treat me as a cautionary tale and call your doctor.

BR: For fun, if you could pick any actor to play you in your biopic, who would it be?

RC: The love child of George Clooney and Zach Galifanikas.

BR: Any final words for our readers?

RC: This experience doesn’t have to define you. It can easily overwhelm everything in your life, but only if you let it. I was determined to push through. I went to movies, wrote reviews and continued all my radio and TV work. I even wrote a book. For me, keeping busy was the best medicine.

Check out Richard’s new book, coming out in April:
Elvis is King: Costello’s My Aim is True

The Backside Issue 6


1. Sign up for the 2015 Balanse Bum Run.

2. Get our early-bird discount: pay only $35 if you register before the end of February.

3. Tell your friends about the most fun run in the city by sharing this newsletter on Facebook: Like The Backside, Issue 6 is here! on Facebook and Twitter: share on Twitter

4. It’s the month of love so sign up a friend too!

5. And, finally, follow us on social media to stay informed about #PooFacts like this:

Geese poo once every 12 minutes.

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