As people live longer, so do their chances of getting cancer increase. In fact, it’s now suggested that aging is the single biggest factor for developing cancer.

Alice Madsen was 89 years old when she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. Because she was still quite independent and in good health, Alice did not want an invasive treatment, such as surgery. She elected instead to go with chemotherapy treatment.

Alice Shares Her Story

In one of our latest patient videos, Alice shared her cancer story on what it was like to be diagnosed with cancer at an older age, as well as what it was like to go through her chemotherapy treatment. She also discusses why she elected to pursue her treatment. Throughout her treatment, Alice remained independent, in good spirits and always managed to find a way to bring out her keen sense of humor.

Alice’s philosophy for going through treatment was to “go for it” and see how it worked. “Each one of us is different,” she says in regards to handling chemotherapy and its side effects. “Our bodies handle it differently.”

While aging may be the biggest risk factor to cancer, a patient’s age should not be the basis for making a cancer treatment decision. While Alice was 89 years old, she would say that she felt, or thought, like she was in her 60’s. A patient’s physical age may not truly reflect their “true” age – their physiological age, which can be estimated by how well the patient’s body functions mentally and physically. Because Alice was also very independent, she weighed her treatment options on how likely they were to disrupt the quality of her daily life and her ability to get around.

These are factors that are always important to consider at any age, but particularly for seniors, who may already be at a disadvantage for mobility, or who may have other existing health factors to consider.

“That’s life,” she says. “We can’t be born and die with nothing. And what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.” Alice was proof that you’re never too old to fight cancer.

Alice passed away at the age of 90, surrounded by her family and friends. Except for a few years, when she lived in California, Alice lived her entire life in Blair. Her wonderful sense of humor and her positive outlook on life will be missed.