One man's advice of an early checkup saved his brother's life

TAMPA - Shawn Brown has a passion for playing music. Musical talent runs in his family, starting with his parents. "My mom played the piano. My dad sang. Then they had six kids."

His older brother Hiram made a career out of music. "My brother actually poured into me a lot of his musical ability." In fact, Hiram, eight years Shawn's senior, always showed him the way.

"We were so close," said Shawn.  So close that he listened when his older brother suggested 45-year-old Shawn go get a medical test usually reserved for 50 year olds. "He said 'You need to go and have a colonoscopy' and I'd never even heard of it. Never even heard of one."

You see, Hiram delivered that request on a low note in their lives. Doctors had just diagnosed Hiram with colon cancer. "He said brother, you need to go get checked out. You and I are so alike."

More alike then either brother could believe.

Doctors found a mass in Shawn's lower colon. When his older brother heard the news, “He cried because he knew what I was in for. He knew what I was in store for. For him to see that his youngest brother was about to go through what he was going through crushed him."

Surgeons at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa removed Shawn's mass. Chemotherapy and radiation followed. Modern medicine healed Shawn's body but it was his music that mended his soul.

But neither could save his brother.

Hiram did survive long enough though, to learn his younger brother had beat his cancer.

"You know, he was so unselfish, he actually thanked God that his brother was going to live. He said, ‘Man you’re blessed, man. You're really lucky. You went just in time’ and I could tell him, "You know Hiram, if it wasn't for you I would have never known."

Most doctors recommend you get your first colonoscopy at the age of 50, but if you have a family history or are part of a high-risk group like African-American men, than you may want to consider getting the test at a younger age.

If Shawn had waited five more years to get his first test he doesn't think he'd be alive today to tell you his story.

The St. Joseph’s Hospital surgeon who helped Shawn Brown, Dr. Anthony Brannan, will host a lecture for women in the community to learn more about colon cancer screenings, prevention and treatment options on Wednesday, March 16, 6 – 8 p.m. For more information, please call 813-443-2046 or visit the link above.

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