Supporting Colorectal Cancer Charities

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

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