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Walter Roussell first crossed paths with Daniel “Stony” Anderson in the late 1980s when Anderson dropped into his salon for a haircut. Both retired from the military, they shared experiences and struck up a friendship.
Twenty-five years later, that friendship proved to be life-changing for Roussell. By then, Anderson had become a gastroenterologist at Kaiser Permanente San Diego — and a champion for regular colorectal screenings — and he urged his friend to stay up-to-date.
In 2012, Roussell had a colonoscopy and learned that a cancerous tumor had broken through the wall of his colon.
“I was hoping we had been lucky enough to catch it very early,” said Dr. Anderson, “but that wasn’t the case.” And in the months that followed, he worked with Roussell’s care team to aggressively treat the cancer with chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
Excellence in cancer care
Physicians like Dr. Anderson have helped Kaiser Permanente earn a reputation for excellence in preventing and treating colorectal cancer:
- A 2015 study found no racial/ethnic disparities in colon cancer survival rates among Kaiser Permanente patients. That’s despite persistent disparities in colon cancer survival in the U.S.
- For the past eight years (2010 to 2017), our Southern California and Northern California health plans have been tops in the state for colorectal cancer screenings, according to the National Committee for Quality Assurance’s benchmarking of HEDIS scores in its NCQA Quality Compass.
- Dr. Anderson was honored by the California Medical Association Foundation in 2017 with its Adarsh S. Mahal, MD, Access to Health Care and Disparities Award. The award recognized his work to improve colorectal cancer screening and diagnostics among communities of color over the past decade.
Six years after his diagnosis, Roussell is cancer-free and relishes the time he spends playing with his granddaughter and relaxing at his mountain cabin.
“Not many people have a friend who’s willing to give you bad news and who will stick with you,” he said of Dr. Anderson. “That friend, I will never forget.”