Olympus Corp. of the Americas Hosting 'Candid Conversations' About Early Onset Colorectal Cancer

FacebookLive panel discussion will include patients, a caregiver and a patient navigator with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., (March 7, 2024) – As part of its commitment to raising awareness around the issue of colorectal cancer (CRC) prevention, Olympus Corp. of the Americas (OCA) will partner with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance to share the stories of those battling the disease.

OCA will host the live panel discussion, “Candid Conversations,” March 12 at its Center Valley headquarters. Speakers will include early onset CRC patients Deondre Williams and Rebecca Bixby; Ayla Cobb Casey, wife of the late musician James Casey who lost his battle with CRC in 2023; and Marianne Pearson, the senior director of patient navigation with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance (CCA).

The hour-long FacebookLive event will begin streaming at 2 p.m. and will be open to the public on the OCA Facebook page. Discussions will touch on the increase of early onset CRC, the importance of knowing your family health history and being your own best advocate and offer insight into the guests’ experiences with diagnosis and dealing with the disease.

For decades, the death rate from CRC for men and women has steadily dropped. However, while incidence rates in adults over 55 decreased by 1% annually from 2011 to 2019, rates increased 1% to 2% a year in those younger than 55 since the mid-1990s, according to the American Cancer Society. In the late 1990s, CRC was known to be the fourth leading cause of cancer death in men and women younger than age 50. That statistic has taken a grim upturn as it is now first cause of cancer death in men and the second in women.1

Early onset patients

In 2017, Deondre Williams was 35 years old when he was diagnosed with Stage II colon cancer. His first and only symptom was blood in his stool that he dismissed as hemorrhoids. When he finally sought a diagnosis after prodding from his wife, his doctor found several cancerous polyps. It was only after his diagnosis that Deondre learned he should have been screened much sooner, given his father’s CRC diagnosis at age 25.

Rebecca Bixby was told that the blood in her stool and recurring abdominal pain could have been her diet or IBS. After months of symptoms, she finally managed to secure an appointment with a gastroenterologist, who ordered an ultrasound that would reveal tumors on her liver. But her colonoscopy was scheduled for four months later.

She finally sought care at the ER about four weeks later and was diagnosed at age 40 with Stage IV rectal cancer; doctors would also find tumors on her lung. Bixby continues to undergo treatment.

Caring for a loved one

Ayla Cobb Casey will join the panel to discuss James Casey’s diagnosis and treatment journey, including their need to push for further diagnosis following unusual bouts of stomach pain and her role as caregiver.

James was diagnosed with Stage III CRC at age 38. Following his diagnosis, James learned of cancer histories on both sides of his family, including a grandfather’s diagnosis of colon cancer. He shared his story during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in 2023 to multiple audiences. Sadly, James’ cancer progressed, and he lost his battle with cancer last August at the age of 40.

Navigating treatment

It can be overwhelming for newly diagnosed CRC patients to come to terms with their diagnosis while understanding their treatment options. Marianne Pearson, whose role as patient navigator for CCA makes her expert at removing barriers to care, will discuss how the CCA is helping patients identify resources for overcoming this often-beatable disease as well as helping the public understand how to pursue the care that keeps CRC in its preventable stages.

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About Olympus
At Olympus, we are committed to Our Purpose of making people’s lives healthier, safer and more fulfilling. As a global medical technology company, we partner with healthcare professionals to provide best-in-class solutions and services for early detection, diagnosis and minimally invasive treatment, aiming to improve patient outcomes by elevating the standard of care in targeted disease states.

For more than 100 years, Olympus has pursued a goal of contributing to society by producing products designed with the purpose of delivering optimal outcomes for its customers around the world.

Olympus Corporation of the Americas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Olympus Corporation, is headquartered in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, USA, and employs more than 4,500 employees throughout locations in North and South America. For more information, visit olympusamerica.com.

1 Cancer statistics, 2024,” CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.” Pub. Jan. 17, 2024