David Kline
All Patient Stories, Cancer Care

Cancer Free in Time to Welcome Granddaughter

David Kline admits he can be stubborn at times. He’s a 63-year-old Navy veteran and retired from a career in the railroad industry. When it came to his health, he had been reluctant to make it a priority. But when a routine colonoscopy revealed a tumor, Kline knew he needed to rely on an outstanding care team at Bayhealth and a strong support system at home. 

A Maryland native, Kline lives in Dagsboro since retiring to Delaware four years ago. After a routine colonoscopy in January 2020 which revealed a tumor, Kline was referred to Bayhealth Colorectal Surgeon Assar Rather, MD, for the specialty care he needed.

Kline had stage 3 rectal cancer. While it was difficult news to hear at first, he described feeling more comfortable after Dr. Rather spoke compassionately with him and explained what he could expect.

“What an excellent group of people Dr. Rather and his team are. I knew I was in the best hands,” said Kline. “Dr. Rather described every detail of the treatment plan and answered all my questions which put me at ease.”

Accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer (NAPRC), Bayhealth is uniquely equipped to provide the most advanced care for rectal cancer. The health system was the first in Delaware to meet the gold standards of the NAPRC and is among fewer than 50 programs in the nation to have earned this recognition.

Although rectal and colon cancers are often categorized together and have some similarities, their treatments differ. “The rectum sits in a very tight space close to other organs, so removing cancer there is more delicate and complex than with colon cancer,” Dr. Rather said. Coming to Bayhealth, patients with rectal cancer benefit from state-of-the-art testing and highly-coordinated care from an expert team at every step of their journey.

Despite it being the earliest part of the pandemic when Kline got his abnormal results, Bayhealth carried out a treatment plan for Kline in record time. After a six-week round of radiation and chemotherapy, he was scheduled for immediate surgery at Bayhealth Hospital, Kent Campus.

“We were able to surgically remove all of the cancer and David had as good a result as you can have after this kind of diagnosis,” said Dr. Rather. “He had a temporary ileostomy, a procedure to create a special pouch through the stomach to eliminate digestive waste and avoid the colon or rectum during healing.”

Kline said he’s grateful to Dr. Rather and his team for their compassionate care and for giving him guidance and solutions to remedy his most challenging symptoms and help him through the hardest parts of his cancer battle.

Rectal cancer symptoms can include abdominal pain or discomfort, frequent bowel movements, constipation, stools with blood or appearing different than normal, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss and fatigue. However, this type of cancer often does not show any warning signs at all, particularly in its earliest stage. That’s why regular screenings like colonoscopies are so important starting at age 45. Those with above average risk, including a history of inflammatory bowel disease or colon cancer in the family, should begin screenings sooner.

“I honestly feel Dr. Rather saved my life,” said Kline. “If I had been hard-headed and not gone through with the treatment, I wouldn’t be here. Dr. Rather was always willing to listen, hold my hand through every step, and gave me the morale boost I needed to get through this difficult period.”

After completing his follow-up care, Kline rebounded back to his healthy, normal routine.
He loves being active outdoors and spending time with his newest granddaughter — born a few months ago — and his two other grandchildren.

“I’d give everyone I encountered at Bayhealth a 10 out of 10. Every single person treated me with respect and compassion. It’s a wonderful place with a great bunch of people. To this day if anything ever happens, I go to Bayhealth. They took such great care of me and I’d rather drive there than go anywhere else.”

Visit Bayhealth.org/Get-Screened to learn about Bayhealth’s campaign to make colorectal cancer history.

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