Dana-Farber Opens New Doors for Patient Battling Metastatic Colon Cancer

Paul Rawate has never been one to sit still. Whether it was getting his blackbelt in Taekwondo at just 8 years old or growing up to run a successful business, the 45-year-old has always kept his eye on the next challenge.

In 2018, Rawate faced an entirely new obstacle when he was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer. While this has proven to be his toughest challenge yet, he has found Dana-Farber to be a source of comfort not only for himself but also his wife, Meena Jacob, and their 8-year-old son, Rajan.

“Being at Dana-Farber not only opened up new treatment options but has also given us the support we need,” explains Rawate.

Paul Rawate and his family.

Strange signs, then a diagnosis

Looking back, Rawate says there were clear signs leading up to his diagnosis that something wasn’t right. As early as 2012, he was having stomach troubles; then his weight started fluctuating.

In the spring of 2018, as his stomach troubles and pain continued to intensify, Rawate was referred to a gastroenterologist — an expert who diagnoses and treats problems in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and liver. He underwent both an ultrasound and colonoscopy, which is used to detect changes or abnormalities in the large intestine (colon) and rectum.

These tests helped reveal the true cause of his symptoms: colorectal adenocarcinoma with metastasis in the liver, or stage IV colon cancer. Rawate wasn’t angry or scared about this diagnosis; instead, he was relieved.

“The diagnosis finally ended my frustration, and all of the symptoms made sense,” he recalls. “I finally knew what I was up against, and I was able to focus on beating it.”  

A second opinion at Dana-Farber

Initially, Rawate underwent treatment at a hospital close to his home. Surgeons were able to successfully remove the mass in his colon, and ongoing chemotherapy treatments kept his cancer from spreading. However, as his condition and situation changed, Rawate sought a second opinion on the guidance of a family friend and colon cancer researcher.

That search led him to Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, where Rawate would have access to various clinical trials. Rawate previously had his tumor genetically sequenced, a process that revealed a wild-type KRAS gene (indicating the gene has not mutated) as well as BRAF and PIK3CA mutations. These genetic markers made him eligible for different targeted-therapy drugs.

In addition to gaining access to the latest therapies and clinical trials, Rawate’s whole family would be able to use the Institute’s support services, including support groups, yoga, and meditation as well as the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center, which is dedicated to young patients with colorectal cancer and the unique challenges they face.

While all of these factors were important, Rawate says what truly sold him on transferring his care was a meeting with the oncologist who would be leading his treatment plan: Nadine McCleary, MD, MPH, senior physician at the Center for Gastrointestinal Oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s.

“With Dr. McCleary, I knew I was always going to get the highest-level care,” Rawate says. “She’s been incredibly supportive, and I trust her opinion on different treatment options and when we should take chances.” 

Since coming to Dana-Farber, Rawate has received a few different treatment regimens and is currently on a FOLFIRI chemotherapy regimen in combination with the drug panitumumab. Today, Rawate is tolerating the treatment well, and it’s been effective at keeping his cancer under control.

“Paul and his wife are a fantastic team, and their level of communication and love is evident,” says Kathleen Boyle, PA-C, Rawate’s physician assistant. “He has an incredibly sweet personality and he’s always smiling.”  

Play ball!

An outdoor enthusiast, Rawate’s favorite part of his family’s home is their large backyard. There, he and Rajan will often play T-ball, play catch, and work on their Taekwondo. A former collegiate golfer, Rawate is also introducing his son to golf, and is turning an old garden into a new golf practice facility for the two of them.

Rawate says he’s also working on exercising and healthy eating. For him, these are ways to take back control of his life and be there for each special family moment.

“As cancer patients I think we’re all on the same journey, with everyone having a unique story to tell,” explains Rawate. “I’m happy to be active and working to defeat this disease.”

6 thoughts on “Dana-Farber Opens New Doors for Patient Battling Metastatic Colon Cancer”

  1. thanks Dana Farber for taking care of Paul. He’s my soul brother, my dawg from the C.

    keep affecting those lives challenged by cancer for the better.

    a Celt from the 74, known as “wig”

  2. I am glad to see a story concerning colon cancer. I’ve lost my Dad Mom and 47 year old nephew to the disease. I am a monthly contributor to Dana Faber through the telethon.

  3. About 2 years ago, I was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer while in the emergency room with my wife at Brigham & Women’s Hospital. I’ll never forget the discussion with the doctor (I don’t remember his name but he was terrific): Doc: “I have some bad news and some good news”. Me: “ok…what’s the bad news?” Doc: “You have stage IV lung cancer” Me: “What??? What the …” Doc:” I understand, but the good news is you’ve got us, Brigham & Women’s and Dana-Farber” I remember it like it was yesterday. Thankfully, my oncology team at Dana has been incredibly supportive and professionally amazing. I am in a clinical trial and I am happy to say that I feel wonderful. Back to the office almost every day. About two months ago, I said to my oncologist that since I felt so good, I thought that maybe I had been misdiagnosed. “No” he said. “We’re just treating you really well”. I cannot recommend the medical care and compassion at both Dana-Farber and BWH highly enough. Amazing people, all around. From the docs to the nurses, the NP’s to the PA’s, the support staff to the techs. EVERYONE! I am sooo lucky to be treating at the finest facilities on the planet. And I wish the patient in the cover story all the best for a long lifetime of successful treatments. That’s what I wish for myself too.

  4. As a former stage 4 colon cancer patient of Dr. McLeary I am heartened to read Mr. Rawate’s story. Six and 1/2 years since my initial diagnosis and almost 3 years since my surgery and last dose of chemotherapy and now being cancer free I can only say that going through the doors of Dana Farber saved my life. So once again I say thank you to everyone at Dana Farber/Brigham especially Dr. McCleary, Dr. Clancy and Dr. Irani.

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