Sixty-five-year-old Robert Cattermole, now 72, was trimming the trees at his church the day before he had surgery for stage 3 colon cancer. An advanced screening at Langley Memorial Hospital found the cancer before any symptoms appeared and doctors said the early detection saved his life.

Robert’s Cancer Journey: Advanced screening finds cancer before symptoms appeared

The day before Robert Cattermole had surgery for stage 3 cancer, he was trimming the trees at his church.

It was spring 2013, he was 65 at the time and he had never had any major medical issues. He had no symptoms. He felt healthy.

But a week or two before that, his family doctor had recommended he get “additional testing.” He was referred to another hospital where he was told he’d have to wait nearly four months.

Since Cattermole was symptom-free, he resigned himself to wait. His daughter-in-law, however, is a registered nurse at Langley Memorial Hospital. She encouraged him to get tested as soon as possible.

Cattermole checked with Langley Memorial and they were able to get him in for testing in a week’s time — something he credits his life to today.

The colonoscopy revealed that — despite having no symptoms — he had stage 3 colon cancer. Days later, Cattermole was in surgery and then underwent chemotherapy to help ensure the cancer didn’t come back.

“The early access to cancer-detecting tools saved my life,” Cattermole said.

The right tools

Six years later the equipment that saved Cattermole is out of date and overworked, and urgently needs replacing.

Last year alone, Langley Memorial performed 4,563 colonoscopy procedures. The endoscopy clinic runs up to six days a week and yet it has the oldest suite of scopes in Fraser Health.

Although the government provides funding for the hospital’s day-to-day operations, it does not always cover upgrades to current equipment — certainly not at the speed patients like Cattermole deserve.

To maintain quality cancer care at the hospital, Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation is raising funds for new scopes — flexible tools with a light and camera that allow doctors to look inside your body.

“It’s the tool they used to discover my cancer,” Cattermole said. “And by buying more of them they can increase the number of advanced cancer screenings they do for patients.”

The foundation is also committed to funding a video processor — an important tool that processes the images captured by the camera in the scopes — as well as tools to monitor patient’s vital signs before and after surgery.

Cattermole said that, in addition getting tested for colon cancer at the age of 65 and up, he hopes people will make a gift to support cancer care at the hospital.

“Please give generously,” Cattermole said. “And help save other lives today.”

To support the hospital’s urgent equipment needs, donate online at or call 604-533-6422.

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Doctors using life-saving equipment in the endoscopy clinic at Langley Memorial Hospital.

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