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The Perfect Story

John Abraham, Peoria, IL, has been in the mortgage industry for 30 years. John is Producing Branch Manager for Residential Loans at Caliber Home Loans, where he is committed to providing ideal financing options to homebuyers and homeowners in the Central Illinois area. John said, “I am blessed to be ranked one of the top 200 mortgage originators in the nation for the past 22 years.” He loves his job and is super passionate about helping people get into new homes. “I have helped half of Peoria!” he added.

The father of five, John has two still at home – his boy and girl twins, who will be seniors this coming school year at Dunlap High School. His oldest daughter is a labor and delivery nurse in Bloomington, IL and his middle daughter is an actress in Los Angeles, CA. John also has a son who is a senior at University of IL in their Business School. John is a proud dad who has instilled health and fitness in his family.

Fitness is John’s other passion and he has been involved in steroid-free, natural body building for 30 years. A former competitor himself, for the last 15 years John has been promoter of the Heart of America Natural Classic show, held in East Peoria, IL annually. John said, “The show has grown into one of the largest drug-free fitness shows in the Midwest.” John believes in drug-free exercise, eats healthy, has never smoked and never been overweight. He stays on top of his health screenings as well. “My love of fitness is one of the reasons I had a screening colonoscopy when I hit that age 50 mark, knowing how important it was to be screened even though I had no issues,” he added.

During his annual exam with his primary care physician, John scheduled his screening colonoscopy for March 2020, but it was delayed due to COVID-19. It was rescheduled for May 22, 2020. Expecting no issues, John was not concerned with the delay. The prep went well. “Some people put off their first colonoscopy due to fear of the prep, but today’s preps are not that bad,” John said. John’s procedure was done at Central Illinois Endoscopy Center, which has a staff of skilled doctors, all members of Illinois Gastroenterology Institute with advanced training and experience in diagnosing and treating conditions of the GI system. “Dr. Terry Baldwin performed my screening colonoscopy and was wonderful,” said John. While still a bit groggy post-procedure, John was told by Dr. Baldwin that he was calling John’s brother-in-law (his driver to center and back home) to come in from the parking lot where he was waiting because they needed to discuss the findings. Hearing that made John somewhat concerned. Dr. Baldwin then told them he found an 8 cm large polyp – only one but big. Dr. Baldwin thought it was benign of if any cancer cells existed, most likely contained within the polyp. The rest of the colon looked good. “The doctor told me if I had waited three to five years later, it would have been a much different conversation,” said John. During the colonoscopy, Dr. Baldwin tried to remove the large polyp but John’s colon spasmed, resulting in only part of the polyp being able to be removed. John was told he needed colon resection surgery to remove the rest and ensure the lining of the colon was healthy.

The part of the polyp that was removed was sent for biopsy, making it a long Memorial Day weekend as John awaited the results. John was referred to Peoria Surgical Group and Dr. Steven Tsoraides, Board Certified in Colon and Rectal Surgery and known as one of the top three colorectal surgeons in the area and one of the top 100 in the country, which made John feel he was in good hands. Rachel DeLong, APN at Peoria Surgical Group met with John to explain the surgery and recovery. John felt even better, in fact he felt lucky when the biopsy result came back as high dysplasia, which in his case meant pre-cancerous. 80 to 95% of polyps that large typically are cancerous. John was sent for a CT scan as well, which came back clean. The rest of the large polyp still needed to be removed by surgery – also to ensure the lining of the colon ended up with clear margins. Surgery was done June 17, 2020, which was a bit difficult of a wait for John to handle but was actually pretty quick considering COVID-19 restrictions. Surgery went great and resulted in clear margins. They removed eight inches of colon along with the large polyp. “They told me I might need to stay three to five days to recover, but I recovered so well, I went home on June 19th,” said John.

One-week post-surgery, John was walking two miles a day. He credits his years of healthy eating, exercise, not ever smoking or being overweight with his fast recovery. Amanda Wright, Nurse Navigator at OSF St. Francis Medical Center where the surgery was done, was caring and a wonderful support for John. Nurse navigators serve as a single point of contact for cancer patients and are an educator, an advocate, and a friend. The really big day was John’s follow-up visit on July 2nd with Dr. Tsoraides who walked in and immediately told John, “No cancer, it’s benign!” If John had waited two to three years to have his screening colonoscopy, the large polyp could have easily turned cancerous.

John is a great spokesperson for having a timely screening colonoscopy because he has lots of friends and acquaintances (including mortgage clients and fitness fans) who are 50 and over. His name is well known in the area, which also helps people listen to his story. When he asks if they have had a screening colonoscopy, sadly about 50% say no. Some say they are afraid of the prep and others say they have no symptoms and so they put it off. John tells his story proactively to everyone 50 and older because it truly concerns him how many have not had a colonoscopy. He tells them how waiting until they have bleeding or other symptoms can be a whole different story versus his good outcome. John said, “I am so very glad I went early!”

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