Carleton Myers turns 95 this June. He has Familial Adenomatous Polyposis and has had an ostomy since about 1948. He has seen a lot in his years and a lot of changes in the management of this rare disease and ostomies.
Carleton's mother likely had FAP as she died from colon cancer in 1928 at the age of 28. She was adopted so there is no further family history of his mother available. His father lived to be nearly 105 with no history of colon cancer or FAP. Carleton's only sibling, Elmer, was first diagnosed with colon cancer and FAP and Elmer's first son also had FAP and died in his mid 30s. Carleton and his wife, Sheila, 91, have 5 sons who have all tested positive for FAP. Two of their grandchildren also tested positive for FAP.
This is an interview with Carleton conducted by his son, Kevin.
What were things like when you were growing up with FAP?
I managed it very well, it was right before I went into the service. I didn't have too much trouble then, it was after that when trouble started. When I learned we could have an operation to take the large intestine out completely, I did that and it was successful.
When did you first find out that the operation could be done?
It would have been probably around 1948. That's when I knew what had to be done because my brother (Elmer) had it done in the early 1940s. He was out in the South Pacific and they sent him back because of it. He had a lot of trouble and hospitals. He managed to survive it. He died when he was 42. Other problems that this brought on, I guess. He had a lot of trouble before it. I didn't, I was fortunate enough to be younger than him and they were learning more and more about it and what they had to do and that saved me.
How did you find out about Henry Ford Hospital and Dr. Block?
I went there when Elmer found out that he had cancer. In two months, I went in and had the whole rectum system out because that's where it started growing in my brother. Because he had his intestine out before me. I didn't know which way but I had good doctors. Just as soon as we found out that my brother had cancer, I had everything taken out.
You never expected to live into adulthood when you were a teen, is that right?
I was hopeful about getting into my 40s. That's what I was shooting for, that I could get that far. I got that far and I kept going. What they did to me originally was taking all of the polyps that were left after they took out most of my large intestine, they left about 6 inches and the rectum. I had to go in many times to get polyps removed. Once Elmer found out he had cancer, I went immediately and found a doctor and had the rectum taken out - it was about three months after that. All of you (my children) were look at in your teens.
Do you have any recommendations for anyone now that has FAP?
I don't know what the doctors are doing now. I was just so glad to be living.
What was it like knowing about FAP?
Sheila - Scary. I knew it was going to be a battle.
Carleton - My brother wrote me a letter right away and I immediately got a doctor to do it. My brother raised me because my mother was dead so didn't have much choice.
Carleton and Sheila in the middle
Their son, Kent, and his wife at top left
Their son, Keith, below Kent on left
Their son, Kevin and wife next to Keith
Their son Kory on bottom left
Their son Kurt on bottom right
|Carleton and Sheila |
75th Wedding Anniversary
Carleton has an ileostomy and in recent years had surgery for an urostomy as well. He has Diabetes and some difficulty walking without mobility aids but in general is doing well with only rare intestinal blockages and maintains a well intact memory per his son, Kevin. Michigan started a Familial Adenomatous Polyposis Awareness Week each year during the week of his birthday to honor him. Find out how to help further honor Carelton and FAP/AFAP patients where you live with the FAP/AFAP Awareness Week Proclamation