‘He was a rock to our family’: Omaha man spreads colon cancer awareness in memory of father

OMAHA, Nebraska (Nebraska) – Ryan Sheidl remembers his father Paul; they were very close.

“He was a rock for our family. He helped me become who I am today.”

Paul Sheidl was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer at the age of 44. He has been an advocate for screening and early detection throughout his fight against cancer. Unfortunately, the disease claimed his life in February 2021.

Ryan, in memory of his father, continues what Paul started.

“When he left, I kind of wanted to take that torch,” Shadl said.

He now spreads the word about the importance of screening and awareness of colorectal cancer as an ambassador for the non-profit organization Fighting Colorectal Cancer. It focuses on communicating with young people.

“In fact, so many young people get diagnosed,” he said. “It just hits a lot of communities that you wouldn’t even think of when you think about colorectal cancer.”

The American Cancer Society claims that one in five people diagnosed with colorectal cancer is under the age of 55. It recommends that people at average risk get screened at age 45.

Dr. Sean Langenfeld, head of colorectal surgery at Nebraska Medicine, said he is also seeing an increase in cases.

“Over the past 11 to 12 years, I have noticed a trend towards an increase in the number of patients,” he said.

Langenfeld also shared that he is seeing a surge in views since COVID-19.

This is a trend that both he and Sheidl want to see: more people paying more attention to symptoms and taking action.

“Part of our big initiative is to make people feel more comfortable talking about it with their doctor,” Langenfeld said.

“We want to make sure that those who start to feel these symptoms and signs get to where they need to be and get tested at the right time,” Shadl said.

The Great Plains Colon Cancer Task Force offers free at-home colon cancer test kits, Nebraska residents aged 45-74 can apply for one of the groups.


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