A softball line-drive to the gut may have saved Tacoma man’s life

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SEATTLE -- March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and one Tacoma man is determined to get the word out about the importance of screenings.

Tacoma Police Lt. Alan Roberts says a line-drive softball to his gut saved his life.

That painful blow sent him to the doctor, who diagnosed him with colon cancer.

"One of my girls threw the ball and it hit me in the gut and first thing I thought was, oh my gosh, that's painful," Robert said.

Then, he said, "I kept having this pain."

Roberts went to the doctor the next day. After a series of tests, including a colonoscopy, a doctor found a large tumor and  diagnosed him with colon cancer.

"Had I not been hit by that softball, I had a month to live," Roberts said.

One surgery later, Roberts is cancer-free. But, he noted, the most important part about his story is that he had no signs, no symptoms, no family history.

At 47, he was three years younger than the suggested screening age of 50.

"Cancer can occur in young individuals," he said.

Doctors at Chi Franciscan say colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths. And it's nearly preventable, if one gets screened regularly starting at age 50, or sooner if there's a family history or other risk factors.

Roberts hopes that by sharing his story, others will catch on -- and get screened, too.

"I have learned from this experience -- you don't have to slap me twice -- preventative is the way to go," he said.







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