Image of Dr. Nora Evans and colon cancer patient Salim Madain

The American Cancer Society recommends screening for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. Asymptomatic and healthy, 62-year-old Salim Madain avoided his routine colonoscopy for 12 years, filling his time with family and the great joy of painting. Even with his doctor and loving wife of 32 years, Abby, urging him to have one, it wasn’t until Abby made a heartfelt request to schedule an appointment for a colonoscopy, that he consented to get the screening.

“I wish I had listened at 50,” says Salim. “I thought, ‘I exercise and eat well. I am a healthy person.’ My wife kept telling me to do it and finally made the appointment for me. She is my angel.”

At age 62, the husband and father of two finally had his first colonoscopy. The results were ominous. Unfortunately by this time, a polyp in his colon had turned into cancer.

“He had one large mass and polyp all in the same area, at the very beginning of the colon,” says Theodore Sy, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Saddleback Memorial. “When we find a mass like this, we do blood tests, a CT scan and we wait for the biopsy report. Large polyps may be pre-cancerous or have cancer already.”

After a series of tests, it was confirmed that the mass did in fact have cancer cells.


Salim was referred to Nora Evans, M.D., colorectal and general surgeon at Saddleback Memorial.

“Otherwise a very healthy man, Mr. Madain was an excellent candidate for robotic-assisted surgery,” recalls Dr. Evans. “We needed to remove his right colon and lymph nodes to rule out metastasis, or the spread of cancer from the part of the body where it started, to other parts of the body. A minimally-invasive, robotic-assisted colectomy was the solution.”

“Prior to my surgery, my wife and I sat down with Dr. Evans and she just had this beautiful smile and comforting words. She explained everything,” Salim says

“We went home, googled her name and realized she is a pioneer in her field.

There is something special about her that just gave us peace.” Saddleback Memorial is a proven leader in robotic-assisted surgical procedures, home to highly skilled surgeons that are trained in a number of areas. Roboticassisted technology allows the surgeon to operate with enhanced precision and dexterity through a few tiny cuts rather than a single large incision. During the procedure, the surgeon sits at a control console where he or she has a magnified, three-dimensional and high-definition view of the surgical area. For patients, including Salim, robotic-assisted surgery means less soft tissue trauma, less postoperative pain, reduced blood loss, shorter hospital stays and a quicker return to his normal activities, such as painting.


Shortly after his surgery, Salim was walking, smiling and able to leave the hospital. With a quick recovery, he felt like himself in two weeks and was back to work in just three. A follow-up with an oncologist showed no trace of cancer and no need for chemotherapy or radiation. He will return to Dr. Sy for some bloodwork this fall and have another colonoscopy next year, a new routine he embraces.

Grateful and confident in his health, Salim is back to doing what he loves –spending time with his wife and his family and painting his next masterpiece.

“The incidence of colorectal cancer has decreased over the past decade due to heightened awareness of the need for screening colonoscopies and early detection of precancerous polyps and their removal,” says Dr. Evans.

“I am on a mission to have everyone I know get a colonoscopy. If I know you and you are nearing 50, I am your colonoscopy ambassador,” Salim declares. “I am so grateful to my wife, Saddleback Memorial staff, Dr. Sy and Dr. Evans for their incredible expertise.”

For more information on our comprehensive cancer program, please call 1.800.MEMORIAL, or visit our section on Cancer Care.