For Norman Hayes, being a judge in the Antrim County courthouse is what he does on a day to day basis, but back in August 2010 being diagnosed with colorectal cancer was not something he was expecting.
"When they used the c-word, they they tell you cancer, everything went blank. I was trying to follow what the physicians were saying," says Judge Hayes.
Judge Hayes had a tumor, which first needed to be shrunk through radiation. Surgery was the next step. Despite the sudden news though, there was a silver lining and that was early detection. "I had a physical every year. I had colonoscopies," says Judge Hayes.
"Colorectal cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer death in America. So, screening is very important for early detection. It's highly curable when detected early. It's a common problem but a very treatable problem," says Dr. Richard Tooley, a general surgeon with Munson Medical Center. Dr. Tooley says early detection was key for Judge Hayes. The next plan of attack was surgery which involved the da Vinci robot.
"I thought it would be a great idea," says Judge Hayes.
"The idea being that you can minimize the trauma to abdominal wall so patients tend to recover a little bit faster with a slightly shorter hospital stay, less pain because less of an incision," says Dr. Tooley.
Dr. Tooley says the da Vinci robot allows the surgeon to use a more accurate approach.
"The da Vinci enables the surgeon to use tools through the laparoscopic approach that you can't use with your hands. we just don't have tools that can manipulate the anatomy like the ones held by a mechanical arm," says Dr. Tooley.
After the da Vinci surgery, Judge Hayes underwent six months of chemotherapy. He is able to say he beat the cancer and there was a lesson to be learned.
"It's so important, early detection, so important to be detected early. When you go through this, it puts everything in perspective. The things I thought were so important now are way down on the scale," says Judge Hayes.
For more information about colorectal cancer or the da Vinci robot click here.