An Arkansas colorectal cancer patient's ileostomy journey

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Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States, according to the the American Cancer Society.

For some patients, treatment requires an ostomy, a colostomy or an ileostomy. For Keith Maddison, a UAMS Medical Center patient, it was an ileostomy. It came after a diagnosis of colorectal cancer.

"The doctor said it is cancer and I said, 'Permanent bag or temporary?' And he said probably permanent but lets get things checked out and we'll go from there," Maddison said.

The "bag" Maddison and his doctor were talking about was an ileostomy bag. Keith made the decision to go to Dr. Conan Mustain to continue his treatment. He underwent radiation, chemotherapy and then surgery.

But Dr. Mustain told him he may not have the bag forever.

"Initially it was a parasite on my side, on my belly," Maddison said. "It really was. I mean, just angry all the time. And I thought I've got to take care of this thing. I've got to take care of it, it's keeping me alive. And I named it. I'm not going to tell you what I named it, but I named it. And once I named it, it was me, and things went better."

He ended up only having the secretly-named ileostomy bag for seven months.

Three years later, he had a follow-up colonoscopy and confirmed he was still cancer-free.

"Don't sit on it like I did," Maddison said. "Get in there and get it taken care of because if you don't, it could be bad. I'm lucky."

Maddison's next step is an MRI scan, which will determine whether his chemotherapy port can be removed.

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