LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - In an earlier report, we told you that Lubbock City Councilman Randy Christian told the others on the council that he is facing cancer for the third time.
So, why him?
As it turns out, there is a strong reason for that... and it’s something he can not ignore.
Randy says, ‘When I had my first bout with cancer 30 years ago, I had no idea what Lynch syndrome was or is."
But after surviving colon cancer twice, and newly diagnosed with stomach cancer, Randy knows now he can blame it all on Lynch Syndrome.
Dr. Simon Williams is a geneticist at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center and assistant Dean of Academic Affairs. He tells his medical students the human body is so amazing that when cells divide and there are mistakes, there are certain cells designed to fix those mistakes. But in Lynch Syndrome, the DNA repair genes are broken.
He says, “So individuals with the syndrome are more likely to accumulate genetic damage within their cells and in certain cases that would lead to cancer.”
And colon cancer, he says, is just one of the cancers flagged when a geneticist finds the markers for Lynch Syndrome.
Dr. Williams explains, “You can have stomach cancer, liver cancer, skin cancer, in females- endometrial cancer, ovarian, or uterine cancer.”
Randy says, “I wasn’t surprised with diagnosis of Lynch because of my family history.”
Randy is grateful that a cousin took the time to document illnesses in the family tree and discovered 17 people with cancer. The trouble for Randy started at age 14 with rectal bleeding. That’s when he had his first colonoscopy. In his 20’s, a doctor was blunt. Randy says, “He looked me right in the eye and said, you know what this family history means? It’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when.”
So Randy was checked every year for cancer… Until that one year at age 27, when he was a month late for his annual scope.
Randy says, “That’s when they found my first colon cancer, when I was a month overdue.”
Dr. Williams says in Lynch Syndrome, the odds are strong with a 50% chance that the gene will be carried on to the next generation. Randy has 2 grown sons who are well aware of the risk. He and one son did a Public Service Announcement for colon cancer awareness a few years ago, encouraging other families to know their family history.
And since there are many markers for hundreds of diseases, Randy wants people to know that as families gather for the holidays, this is the perfect time to learn what’s in your family tree.
He adds, “Not the most attractive conversation at the table but it’s so important to talk about family medical history.”
After all, he believes that awareness has given him a lot more holidays to enjoy, “I will say I’ve lived 30 to 35 years passed what I would have if I had not caught it early.”