It's About Time

Colorectal Cancer: Ken's Story

By Sarah Gould

As the director of HIV prevention for a community-based organization in Harlem, Kenneth (Ken) De Jesus is no stranger to helping others improve their health and well-being. But when at 48-years-old Ken was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, he was shocked.

When Ken began experiencing frequent trips to the bathroom, he was not overly concerned. Instead, he thought it was a symptom of his Type 2 diabetes medication. Ken made an appointment for a colonoscopy, but the doctor rescheduled. He saw his primary care physician, explained the situation, and the doctor instructed him to go for a colonoscopy immediately. He made an appointment,  and his mother accompanied him the day of the procedure.

When he woke up from the colonoscopy, the gastroenterologist told him he had found two cancerous growths. Full of dismay while walking the busy streets of Manhattan, Ken and his mother felt still, despite being surrounded by crowds of people. At that moment, it was just the two of them, a memory that they will never forget.

Ken scheduled an appointment with Dr. Armory Novoselc, a local oncologist at New York Cancer & Blood Specialists (NYCBS). “Dr. Novoselac is the coolest guy on earth,” Ken said. He treated my mom and me so well. Nurse Practitioner Maria Francis was also amazing.” Ken’s treatment regimen consisted of iron infusions, chemotherapy, and a chemo ball that he would take home every few days.

An avid football and music lover, Ken is the life of the party. He is even known as ‘DJ Kentorious’ among his friends. Ken’s infectious personality exudes positivity. “I always believe that if you have positive thoughts and positive feelings, you will have positive outcomes,” he said. And that’s how Ken approached his treatment.

Ken would pass the time in the infusion center by singing 'I'm Still Standing'  by Elton John with other patients. Some days he’d watch scary movies and talk to the nurses. “NYCBS is a family environment. It made going through the treatments so much easier,” he said.

After finishing treatment, Ken had colon surgery. He then had more chemotherapy and radiation to lower the risk of the cancer coming back in the future. Finally, on June 21, 2019, Ken was declared cancer-free.

Since then, Ken has prioritized his health. He stays active, eats healthy, and makes the most of every minute. “To be able to enjoy your life and live is what we should all be doing,” Ken said. “Life is so precious, and I cherish all of the priceless moments with family and friends. So it’s important to take charge of our health to make sure we are around for them.”


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