Stern advice from local man being treated for colon cancer — get screening now

Dave Marner

An Owensville man with a love of golf and organizing tournaments to benefit community civic groups has a simple message for anyone over the age of 50.

Get a colonoscopy.

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and Mark Lough wants to share his message. 

“The most important thing is they get a screening,” said Lough. “Don’t be stupid and wait too long like I did. I’m dying because of it.”

Lough has also been active over the years in local community theater productions. He has the stage here and he’s sharing his message with anyone who will listen. 

“It’s easily preventable,” he said.

Lough, 56, was diagnosed in April 2016 with stage 4 colon cancer which has since spread to his liver and one lung. He was given 10 months to live with treatment. It’s now March 2018 and Lough is still alive and desperately wants the public to hear his message.

After six months of chemotherapy, he was told there was “no active cancer cells” remaining in his system. The next step was 12 more months of chemotherapy and six weeks of daily radiation treatments in an effort to shrink the tumor in his colon to allow surgeons to remove it in a way that he would not have to have a colonoscopy bag his entire life. 

The tumor shrank enough to proceed with surgery to remove it in the least invasive way possible. Afterward, he said he was deemed “cancer free.”

“The surgeon told me ‘that just doesn’t happen,’” said Lough. “It wasn’t normal to be ‘cancer free’ in 14 months.”

Lough’s good news last all of two months. When he returned for surgery to remove his temporary colostomy bag, a scan revealed cancer had spread to his liver…and it was inoperable, he was told.

Two injections of radiation directly into the spots on his liver where the cancer cells had settled were administered. On March 16 he will undergo a scan to see if the injections worked or not. He said March 19 is the date of his next scheduled appointment with his physician when he will learn the scan results.

“I’m not going to say it’s a ‘death sentence’ if it doesn’t work but it really would be good if it did,” said Lough.

Lough paused, looked at the reporter and said, sternly, “get a colonoscopy. Please.” 

He’s endured the usual pain and misery one might image with colon cancer.

“I need people to know this is preventable,” he said. “I don’t want anybody to ever  have to go through this. I don’t wish this on my worst enemy. It’s the most humbling experience.”

Through it all, he said he’s also been humbled by the overwhelming support he’s received.

“The amount, the number of people, friends and strangers, saying they’re praying for you is humbling,” he said. “I don’t know if I can ever thank them enough.”

No matter what happens this month, Lough appreciates the support he’s received and looks forward to sharing his message. He’s already visited a local radio program based at White Mule Winery and he’s been interviewed by KRCG about his dog Duncan Leo Lough’s Facebook page and his plea for friends to have colon screenings. He’s scheduled to appear on a promotion for Mercy Hospital St. Louis where he’s received treatment along with a live interview for the American Cancer Society which is to appear on KSDK.

“I’m lucky,” said Lough. “First and foremost is God. Second is the outpouring of support from friends and strangers. And third, is my dog. If I hadn’t had him I wouldn’t be here.”

During the worst of his ordeal during treatment, he went so far as to remove the ammunition from his home.

“Everybody needs somebody,” Lough said of his 11-year-old companion, Duncan Leo. 

A friend stops by the table to wish Lough well. She will take Duncan Leo — if the time comes, he said. 

He will keep spreading his message, he said, and golfing, as long as he is able.