U.S. Army Veteran Undergoes Surgery to Treat Colon Cancer at Fort Sanders Regional
During the Vietnam War in the 1960s, Charles Burnett served one year of active combat duty. Today, the U.S. Army veteran is retired and enjoys life with his wife and family on his 99-acre cattle farm in Newport, Tennessee. He’s also facing another battle—this time with cancer.
Burnett has a history of colon issues and has been under close surveillance with yearly colonoscopies. Typically, this screening is recommended for adults over the age of 50 every 10 years. After a mass was discovered during his latest screening, he was referred to a specialist in Knoxville for further diagnosis and treatment.
Burnett saw Gregory Midis, MD, FACS, surgical oncologist and colorectal surgeon at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center. Dr. Midis specializes in cancer surgery and helps patients with cancerous disease and benign issues in the colon and rectal areas of the body.
Further diagnostic testing revealed Burnett had a mass approximately four centimeters in diameter in the middle of his colon. Burnett and Dr. Midis determined he needed an operation to remove the malignant mass.
In July, Burnett underwent a segmental resection, or a procedure to remove part of the colon. Dr. Midis also removed several cancerous lymph nodes with the section of colon and Burnett stayed in the hospital for several days to recover.
Excellent Care When Needed Most
Though Burnett has steady healthcare through Veterans Affairs (VA), his trips require traveling the winding 60-mile trek to Johnson City to the VA hospital in the Tri-Cities area. Burnett says it is much easier to get to Knoxville on the interstate from his farm. That’s why Burnett and his wife were glad to drive to Knoxville for consultation and surgery.
The retired vet appreciated how Dr. Midis explained everything that was going to happen. “He showed me a picture of my colon and he drew on it,” Burnett recalls. “I would recommend him to others.”
After surgery, Burnett reports that he was sore at the incision site, but overall is feeling well. He is aware of his surgical scar or “zipper on his belly” when he rolls over on his side in bed at night. Overall, he is relieved the cancerous mass and lymph nodes were removed.
Since the patient had a history of colon cancer, he was at a higher risk of developing problems. Because of lymph node involvement discovered during his surgery, he will need further treatment to ensure he’s in the clear.
Burnett is grateful his wife was able to visit him in the hospital and has been by his side at every doctor’s appointment. He will undergo chemotherapy close to home to ensure there are no lingering cancer cells, and he encourages others to seek medical care if they think something is wrong.
Honoring Our Veterans
Dr. Midis acknowledges Burnett’s mass would have caused more severe problems if not surgically removed. Through serving Burnett and other veterans, Dr. Midis says he is humbled to be able to provide excellent care when a service member needs it most.
“For me, I always feel indebted to our servicemen and women,” Dr. Midis says. “I can never repay the sacrifice they have made. It’s truly an honor to treat our country’s veterans who have given so much.”
In addition to the VA, surgical services and specialized care are available in Knoxville and surrounding communities. “We know the VA is an excellent resource for our veterans,” Dr. Midis says. “We are fortunate to have physicians who subspecialize in various areas of surgery at the Fort Sanders location right here in town, and it just provides another option for them.”
Putting Patients First
Dr. Midis has performed surgery in the Knoxville area for over 20 years. He emphasizes that just because a person doesn’t have symptoms of colon issues does not mean something isn’t going on under the surface. That is why it’s important to maintain regular screenings, because malignancies in the colon do not always cause obvious symptoms.
Dr. Midis and the surgical team at Fort Sanders Regional are passionate about putting their patients first. Dr. Midis says his philosophy includes sitting down with his patients and coming up with a plan they are comfortable with. “I am sensitive to the fact they have just been given a life-changing diagnosis, like being told they have cancer. To that I say, knowledge is power over the disease. We educate and inform patients of their options so they know what’s happening.”
Talk to your doctor about routine screenings such as colonoscopies, as they can be life-saving. For more information about surgical oncology or surgery at Fort Sanders Regional, visit FSRegional.com/Surgery.