Race car driver John Andretti recently revealed that he is battling Stage 4 colon cancer. Now, he is urging his fans around the world to schedule a colonoscopy, especially if they are age 50 or over.
Andretti, 54, opened up to WTHR 13 News about receiving the life-changing news. In January, Andretti underwent a colonoscopy, a procedure that he admitted he had been putting off due to a busy schedule. Doctors informed the driver that he had Stage 3 colon cancer and scheduled him for surgery to remove part of his colon. However, during his follow-up appointments, doctors discovered that his cancer had spread to his liver.
"Now I'm a Stage 4A. There is only stage 4B from my understanding, so I'm not really excited about that. But the good news is that we are still on the side that has a good chance of being cured."As WCNC Charlotte reported, Andretti recently voiced his belief that had he undergone a colonoscopy at age 50, the recommended age, doctors would have had a better chance to stop his cancer from spreading.
"There's no reason for this to be like this. Had I gone when I was 50, I know that this would be better than it is now."Now Andretti and his family are urging fans to schedule a colonoscopy and let the world know on Twitter by using #CheckIt4Andretti. As referenced above, WCNC Charlotte caught up with Andretti as he was speaking at the Levine Cancer Institute. He said that a busy schedule is no excuse for putting off a procedure that could save your life.
"It's a day out of your life. And you can say I can't give up a day? Well you know what, you can because I'm giving up a lot more than that."Andretti pointed out to fans that pride should not come before one's health.
"You soon realize you can be as tough as you want and deal with whatever you want, but now you've caused a lot of hardship on your family."Andretti has received overwhelming support on Twitter, with many fans using #checkit4Andretti to share that they have scheduled or completed a colonoscopy. Andretti's work to inform the public about the dangers of colon and rectum cancers isn't limited to his fans. WTHR 13 News' Dave Calabro, the man that Andretti trusted to tell his story, revealed that he underwent his first colonoscopy at Andretti's urging. The sports reporter is also 54. Doctors discovered that Calabro had two pre-cancerous polyps, which they were able to successfully remove.
Andretti's cousin, retired Formula One driver and CART legend Michael Andretti, recently underwent his first colonoscopy after watching the "excruciating pain" that John has endured. The 54-year-old told ABC News that his procedure "came back clear and put his mind at ease."
As mentioned, John Andretti is a member of the famed Andretti racing family. While his uncle Mario may be the most well-known member of the family, John is a respected driver in his own right. In 1994, he became the first driver in history to attempt the Memorial Day Double, starting in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. The two races are held on the same day and cover 1,100 miles.
With the Indianapolis 500 only a few weeks away, some fans would like to see John Andretti named the pace car driver or grand marshal for the event.According to the National Cancer Institute, colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. However, it is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths, behind lung and bronchus cancer. Statistics on their website show that "approximately 4.3 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with colon and rectum cancer at some point during their lifetime." However, with the advances in medicine and procedures, like the colonoscopy, the death rate for patients diagnosed with colon or rectum cancer has dropped at an average of 2.5 percent since 2005.
If you are age 50 or over, John Andretti urges you to schedule a colonoscopy today.
[Featured Image by Mel Evans/AP Images]