Dan “Dry Dock” Shockley is a Health Stories Project member from California who, after retiring from the military and surviving hereditary colon cancer, is the definition of a warrior. He recently responded to our Shared Experiences story request about people sharing important experiences together. Leave your comments and questions for Dan below!

“I am a retired Navy veteran and an 8-year hereditary colon cancer warrior with a permanent ostomy. As a hereditary colon cancer advocate, I am interested in sharing the importance of early detection. I have the opportunity in numerous venues as a guest speaker to share my journey on how I am able to adapt, improvise, and overcome adversity to live with rare gene mutation and having an ostomy.

In 2012 I was diagnosed with a hereditary colon cancer syndrome: attenuated familial adenomatous polyposis (AFAP). I had no symptoms or family history. As a result, my entire colon was removed and I have a permanent ostomy. There is no cure for this rare gene mutation which impacts an estimated less than 0.03% of the global population.

I embraced the diagnosis from the onset and initiated my personal research of this autosomal dominant germline mutation in an effort to better prepare myself for my journey. I was honored to meet Dr. Henry T. Lynch, the founding father of hereditary colon cancer syndrome research shortly after my diagnosis and surgery. Dr. Lynch is credited with discovering the mutation with which I was diagnosed. He considered me a colleague and was tracking my case.

We must educate the world about hereditary colon cancer syndromes, it behooves each of us, men, women, parents, siblings, educators, physicians and citizens to promote awareness of these diseases and increase the chances of saving lives. My vision is to share my journey on the importance of early detection through local, state, national and international advocacy efforts for rare disease and hereditary colon cancer awareness, as a source of inspiration and encouragement with the goal of overcoming adversity.

In short, early detection is key, I’m living proof.

My advice for others who are diagnosed with colon cancer is to maintain a positive attitude. I also suggest that you refer to credible resources and learn about your diagnosis. Take notes and ask questions and consider connecting with local and national groups that specialize in your diagnosis. Above all, always forge ahead with a purpose.”

Dan “Dry Dock” Shockley – Sacramento, CA
Diagnosed with A hereditary colon cancer syndrome since 2012