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Roger Freeman battles colon cancer: 'I've always been a fighter'

State Rep. Roger Freeman (D-Federal Way) at his office in Olympia with his mother, Janice Stambaugh, who is visiting from Omaha, Neb. - Andy Hobbs/Federal Way Mirror
State Rep. Roger Freeman (D-Federal Way) at his office in Olympia with his mother, Janice Stambaugh, who is visiting from Omaha, Neb.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/Federal Way Mirror

In the fight of his life, Roger Freeman is playing to win.

The state representative from Federal Way was recently diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. Doctors discovered the cancer had spread to his liver and his lower lungs.

Aside from a bronchial irritation last fall, Freeman had experienced no symptoms. That's what made February's diagnosis more shocking, he said, noting a lack of family history with cancer.

Freeman, 47, has endured three chemotherapy sessions so far, with nine more to go. He will not have surgery, but without treatment, he would have had four months to live.

The chemotherapy has left Freeman tired, and he sleeps more. However, doctors tell him that his blood cell count is high, and he feels no pain. The legislator still shows up for work in Olympia as much as possible. An electronic pump hangs from his shoulder to send medicine through a tube that's connected to a port in his upper left arm.

Freeman nourishes his body with healthy foods and nurtures his spirit through faith. As a married father with two children, the burden of diagnosis has been difficult to shoulder.

"There was a lot of guilt at first. I thought, what could I have done to cause the cancer?" the Democrat lawmaker told The Mirror from his office at the O'Brien Building.

The goal is to keep a game plan — namely, participating in his cure. It starts with a positive attitude that shuns gloom and doom, he said. He doesn't know the success rates for treating cancer at this level. All he knows is that he needs to keep the faith in order to heal.

"I have always been a fighter," he said. "It's very winnable… I know I'm going to survive."

The former Federal Way City Council member was elected to the state House of Representatives in November 2012. As a defense attorney working in the child welfare system, Freeman said the Legislature is where his skills are needed most. More than ever, he is living with a purpose, he said.

"My life now is my family and imparting wisdom and knowledge back to our young people so that generations won't be lost," Freeman said. "Tomorrow's not promised. You have to make it count."

Relay for Life

Freeman will be a guest speaker at this year's Relay for Life, and he encourages the community to participate. The 2013 event begins at 6 p.m. June 7 at Saghalie Middle School, 33914 19th Ave. SW, Federal Way. Dozens of teams will walk the track overnight until noon Saturday to symbolize that cancer doesn't sleep.

Relay for Life also features a community wellness fair with multiple vendors. Last year's event raised more than $55,000 for the American Cancer Society. To register or learn more, visit www.federalwayrelay.org.

To learn more about colon cancer, click here.

 

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