Faith helps him battle colon cancer

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Procrastination is usually the key factor in losing one’s battle with cancer, but not so, in Victor Bracewell’s case.

Bracewell, an Andalusia resident and former Southeast Alabama Gas District employee, was diagnosed in July 2011 with advanced stage III colon cancer. In a matter of months, his father, Joe T. Bracewell, would get the exact same diagnosis but succumb to complications from the disease.

“I put off going to the doctor for a year, but isn’t that what all men do?” Bracewell said. “I was not feeling well and couldn’t last. I gave out real easy. I finally listened to my wife and went to the doctor.”

Results of his health screening led doctors to perform a colonoscopy.

“He went in, got a picture and came out and told us he was 95 percent sure it was cancer,” said Bracewell’s wife of 30 years, Margo. “Two days later, he was in surgery.”

Doctors removed what they could of the tumor, as well as four of the body’s 10 lymph nodes. The couple elected to get a second opinion in Houston.

“They gave us the same scenario, maybe a little bit worse, than what we were told here,” Bracewell said. “In August, I started the first of 12 chemo treatments, and finished up in February.”

Then a “once-in-a-lifetime thing” happened – his 76-year-old father was diagnosed with the exact same type of cancer, in the exact same spot.

“Dr. Day said he’d never seen anything like it before, and probably never would again,” Bracewell said. “We were shocked.”

Luckily, the elder Bracewell’s cancer was contained within the tumor and had not spread to the rest of his body, like in his son’s case. Doctors were able to remove the cancer; however, pneumonia set in and eventually killed him.

“The thing about this type of colon cancer is that it is very aggressive and there is a high probability other family members can get it,” Bracewell said. “They said that all siblings should go through the test by the age of 40, and more than likely earlier than that for us, given our family history. So, I called from Houston and told everyone to go get checked.

“Dad was a 20-year lung cancer survivor,” he said. “He went through a lot with that. They even had to remove the top part of his right lung. He went through radiation and chemo. It was tough, but he survived.

“So after I called, Dad went to his regular checkup,” he said. “And that’s when they found it.”

Bracewell said his father passed away on April 7.

“It was kind of a blessing that I put going to the doctor off,” he said. “If I hadn’t, the cancer might not have shown up. But then, if I’d waited, they said in four months, there wouldn’t have been anything they could do.

“We got Dad in, but finally, his lungs just gave out,” he said. “Now, it’s something my children have to pay attention to and definitely look out for.

“I’m glad I made it this far, and I hope to keep going,” he said.

Throughout it all, he said his family – which also included daughter, Tori, and son, Justin – have stood by his side.

“My daughter had these bracelets made that say, ‘Victor’s Voyage’ that have Philippians 4:13, which states, ‘I can do all this through him who gives me strength,’” he said. “It’s to remind people to pray. Faith is what got us through. God led the way, and He can do the same for others.”