Gang Colon Cancer Gang's Story

Listen to your body. You know yourself better than anyone else. If you have a problem, take action.

On an average week, Gang, 39 years old, runs about 20 miles. This routine was interrupted when Gang started feeling abdominal pain and having irregular bowel movements. He knew something was wrong and sought care from three different gastrointestinal specialists who diagnosed him with diverticulitis and treated him with antibiotics. As Gang’s symptoms persisted, he was referred to Mark Gilder, MD, a colorectal surgeon affiliated with Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center (CBMC) and a member of the RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group.

Mark Gilder, MD
Mark Gilder, MD

Worried that Gang might have an abnormal growth, after looking at his CT scan, Dr. Gilder recommended that Gang get a colonoscopy. The colonoscopy confirmed Dr. Gilder’s suspicions of an obstruction and a biopsy was taken. Six days later on November 16, 2021, he had surgery to remove the cancer.

Comprehensive Recovery

“When I first found out I had cancer I was anxious and afraid, but I wanted to return back to my normal life,” says Gang. “I had to accept the fact that there were no guarantees about my prognosis so I just tried to control the next step by doing my research and talking to my doctors.”

A minimally-invasive robotic surgery technique was used to remove the part of the colon with cancer. Then the remaining sections of the colon were reattached. This procedure is part of the Comprehensive Recovery Pathway (CRP) for Lower Intestinal Surgery.

“The CRP process starts prior to surgery so our patients know what to expect before and after their surgery,” explains Dr. Gilder. “We have developed a set of guidelines that involves patient education and a team of specialists to help patients recover more quickly and safely.”

After only a few hours post-surgery, Gang was up and walking. Using a multimodal pain management program, Gang was able to go home just two days later with limited opioid usage.

“Since 2015, the Comprehensive Recovery Pathways have shown tremendous benefits for our patients at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center,” says Dr. Gilder. “This unique program makes us second to none; improving the quality of work that we do and putting our patients at the center of their care.”

Return to Normal

After discussing it with his oncologist Michael Scoppetuolo, MD, Medical Director, The Cancer Center at CBMC, they determined that Gang did not need any further treatments, and will be evaluated regularly for any changes.

Michael Scoppetuolo, MD
Michael Scoppetuolo, MD

Shortly after his surgery, Gang gained back his strength to start running again. Only six weeks later, he was back to his normal running routine and is now training to run his seventh marathon in Philadelphia this November (only one year since his surgery).

Now living cancer-free, Gang’s advice for others, “Listen to your body. You know yourself better than anyone else. If you have a problem, take action.”

As New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey together with RWJBarnabas Health provides patients access to the most advanced cancer screening and treatment options for colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the nation, but it is one of only a few cancers that can be prevented. Colorectal cancer is beatable and treatable, but only if caught early. Through proper screening, like a colonoscopy, a gastroenterologist can find and remove polyps hidden in the colon before they become cancerous. Sometimes, removing polyps can prevent cancer altogether. Individuals of average risk of colorectal cancer should begin regular screening at age 45.

To find out what screening schedule is best for you, make an appointment with one of our health care providers.