Tyler Newton: One of the things that I've quickly realized after working and living here on the ranch is I like being busy. The girls keep us busy. Watching the girls be able to play, it's great saying, "Hey, get a little dirty. Scrape your knee a little bit. Go climb a tree," and it's a great experience for the girls.
My grandpa worked in human resources out in Chicago because his dream was to go back to a farm, go back to nature. There have been many times where my dad and I have just been sitting out on the porch, staring out at the view and saying how much grandpa would've loved coming out here. There really isn't a day that goes by that I don't walk around and kind of feel his presence outside here every day.
He was in his early seventies and was starting to have some GI issues, so they did a colonoscopy and found a pretty significant-size tumor in his colon. They went in for exploratory surgery, and essentially, when they opened him up, the cancer had spread throughout his entire abdomen and they closed him back up. But basically from diagnosis until he passed away, it was about five or six months. So we flew out basically for one last visit and did almost this big family reunion, and one of the traits that has passed down from the Newton lineage is we tend to cry when we're laughing really hard, and I remember him and my dad reading a story and a letter that my dad wrote from band camp when he was 12, 13 years old. I remember the two of them just laughing until they both cried, and I really remember that last visit still to this day.
Colon cancer can be very treatable if it's caught early, so time is the most important factor when it comes to colon cancer. The biggest hurdle right now in the Mother Lode is access and time because of capacity. When our GI center was originally built in 2004 with the new hospital, there was another hospital in town. It was not built to sustain the amount of capacity that we have in this community. Right now, our soonest screening colonoscopy is in June of next year. We need to build up our capacity within the community to be able to take better care of our community.
Where my grandpa was 72, at the time, I'm 12, 13 years old and you don't understand necessarily the gravity of age at that point. Now, as an adult, it's like, "That is a lot of life left to live." What I envision with this digestive health center is to be able to provide more opportunities for memories, for experiences. With early detection, there are so many more possibilities for treatment and I view that as opportunities for people in our community to be able to have more memories with their family or the things that are important for them. That's motivation for me as a parent and as a husband. I want to be there for the important things in my girls' life and I want to be there for their college graduation. I want to walk them down the aisle. I want to meet my grandkids. I want to play with my grandkids.
Those are all experiences that, if you amplify that across Tuolumne County and Calaveras County and the greater Mother Lode, there are a lot of experiences left to be lived in this community, and having that type of access in our community to preventative care, expert-level care. I would boil it down as that is the dream of the Digestive Health Center — is to provide more and create more memories for people in our community and families in our community that would otherwise be cut short.