During his own fight with colon cancer, a Worthington man is taking advantage of a statewide research study to help save the lives of his young daughters.
From an early age, Jay McDaniel, 48, was certain cancer was something he would have to face.
"I had lost my dad, his brother, my grandpa, several of his sisters to colon cancer," McDaniel said. "So I kind of had an idea. I grew up with it."
Last May, doctors found a tumor in McDaniel's colon during a routine visit for stomach pain, and it quickly was determined that the single father had stage 3B colon cancer less than a year after having his annual colonoscopy.
Nearly a year later, McDaniel's cancer is in remission. But more importantly for the father of three is the fact that an Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center study has allowed him to identify whether his daughters are at risk for the same disease.
Through a simple mouthwash procedure, doctors were able to determine that McDaniel's oldest daughter, Erika, 24, tested positive for lynch syndrome, a hereditary colorectal and uterine cancer syndrome that results in colon cancer or five different other types of cancer in 80 percent of those affected.
After learning that she had lynch syndrome, Erika will have annual colonoscopies earlier than most people because of the risk of developing cancer early. Still, early detection likely would be able to save her life. Researchers at OSU expect to be able to save more than a thousand lives simply by testing for lynch disorder in patients and their immediate families at the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.
"This isn't something they're working on; these are real, raw numbers," McDaniel said. "Other types of cancer, it's a little more of a mystery. But this is totally curable."
Although McDaniel is pleased to be in remission and is happy to be on his way to recovery, he emphasized that he is more relieved about identifying the risks for his daughters early in their lives.
"If you're a parent, a lot of times it's not so much the chemo and the surgery. That's no big deal," he said. "But knowing you handed this down to your kid is just gut-wrenching. So to put everything on the table and know that this could save her life, and you know the other two are negative, just knowing that much about my kids and knowing they're safe, it takes a huge load off."
McDaniel said his daughter might not seem thrilled about annual colonoscopies at age 24, but she'll eventually recognize the value of the research.
"I don't think she looks at it as a blessing; she looks at it as a curse that every year she has to have this invasive procedure," he said. "But I think later on down the road, she'll realize it saved her life."