Wade Hayes, best known for the hit “Old Enough to Know Better,” has been diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.
It was a diagnosis that the 42-year-old country musician, who had no family history of gastrointestinal disease, did not expect.
Hayes had attributed the different symptoms that he had been experiencing to several things. The bleeding, he thought, was a hemorrhoid due to a strenuous weightlifting session at the gym, while the fatigue was just part and parcel of life on the road. He also thought that at his age, he was still too young to get a colonoscopy; that is, until he started experiencing excruciating pain.
At Thanksgiving last year, Hayes spent time at the hospital because of intussusception, a condition where food and liquid passing through the intestine is blocked, and the blood supply to the rest of the digestive tract is cut off. Intussusception is rare in adults unless there is an underlying condition. In Hayes case, it was stage IV colon cancer.
The doctors had discovered that the collapse was caused by a large tumor, and that the cancer had metastasized.
Mike Robertson, Hayes’ manager, shared: “You just don’t expect a man in his young 40s, who was perfectly healthy in every other way, to get this kind of diagnosis.”
Dr. Paul Limburg, a gastrointestinal cancer prevention specialist at the Mayo Clinic, shared: “Oftentimes, [colorectal cancer] has no symptoms… The most important message is that people really should understand that screening should be done regularly. It could make a substantial difference in the number of lives saved.”
Since his diagnosis, Hayes has had 70 percent of his liver, as well as 20 inches of his large intestine, removed. He has also lost 50 pounds, as well as undergone several rounds of chemotherapy. He is eating red meat less, and is eating more fruits and vegetables. He is also speaking out about early cancer screening: “If I had caught it early, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”