Complex Colorectal Surgery Gives Country Club Hills Man His Life Back

Colorectal cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, claims thousands of lives each year. In 2013, Ian Lilly of Country Club Hills was almost one of them.

For 66-year-old Ian, the only warning signs were a mild case of anemia discovered at a yearly check-up and slight bleeding from the rectum, which he assumed was related to hemorrhoids.

So last spring, Ian's primary care physician referred him to oncologist James Wallace, M.D., who diagnosed him with Stage II colorectal cancer. Dr. Wallace recommended chemotherapy and radiation therapy before surgery to shrink the tumor's size, which was situated very low in the rectum.

There was also talk of a permanent colostomy, which is commonly used when the rectum or colon needs to be removed because of disease or cancer. The remaining portion of the intestine is used to create a stoma, and waste is collected on the outside of the body with an ostomy appliance.

"These are very complex procedures that aren't done everywhere," Dr. Peplinski said. "Mr. Lilly also had the benefit of excellent cancer care before surgery to shrink the tumor. He is a wonderful example of the multidisciplinary approach to cancer available at Ingalls."

"I was willing to do anything to keep from getting a colostomy," the retired teacher and financial advisor said. "I worked three jobs all my life so I could retire and play golf; I didn't want to face that."

Ian was referred to board-certified general surgeon Gary Peplinski, M.D., who specializes in surgical oncology. "Dr. Peplinski, who is a brilliant surgeon, told me he would do his best to prevent a permanent colostomy," Ian explains.

Reassured, Ian underwent a highly complex procedure at Ingalls last April called a total mesorectal excision (TME) to remove his cancerous rectum. With Dr. Peplinski's advanced training in minimally invasive surgery, he was able to perform the procedure laparoscopically, meaning several small incisions versus a large abdominal one. The result? Less blood loss and a quicker recovery.

"These are very complex procedures that aren't done everywhere," he said. "Mr. Lilly also had the benefit of excellent cancer care before surgery to shrink the tumor. He is a wonderful example of the multidisciplinary approach to cancer available at Ingalls.

"The procedures were highly successful, and Mr. Lilly has full continence once again," Dr. Peplinski added.

"I'm so grateful to Dr. Peplinski, Dr. Wallace and the entire Ingalls cancer team. They were all magnificent. It was a long road, but I'm healed and back to feeling good again. In the words of Winston Churchill, ‘Never give in—never, never, never.'"

For more information about Ingalls Cancer Care, call 708.915.HOPE (4673).

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