It would seem that life was going smoothly for 30-year-old Lucas Brooks. Married with two young children, He and his wife, Megan O'Brien, were just moving in to Brooks' childhood home in east Petaluma when life took an unexpected turn.
"After the move in 2009, I started to notice a little pain in my right lower abdomen," said Brooks. "I went to the doctor to see what was going on. The idea was that I had a poor diet and possibly an ulcer. I went home and changed my diet immediately."
Brooks grew up in Petaluma with his parents, Victor and Deborah Brooks, and two brothers and a sister. He and his siblings all graduated from Casa Grande High School and all worked as newspaper carriers for the Petaluma Argus-Courier.
"I delivered the route in my neighborhood for almost eight years," said Brooks, who began delivering papers at age 7. "I only stopped because I got my drivers license and needed to make more money for insurance and gas."
After high school, he went into plumbing and now works as a plumber with the United Association Local 38 in San Francisco.
With a family of his own and a new home, life was moving in a great direction for Brooks, except for the odd pain in his abdomen that continued despite changing his diet.
"Every time I went back to the doctor, it was the same thing — change your diet," said Brooks, who was becoming very frustrated with the doctor's inability to tell him what was wrong.
In July 2010, Brooks was admitted to the hospital with a ruptured appendix. When the surgeon saw him after the surgery, he commented that Brooks' appendix "looked weird," but attributed it to the appendix festering for months. It was also ruled the cause of his abdominal pain.
Because of Brooks' age, the doctors didn't feel there was any reason to do a biopsy to see what else might be going on.
"I went home from the hospital feeling well, but only for a week," he said. "At this point, I was done waiting for any more appointments, so we pushed and pushed until we finally got a colonsocopy appointment scheduled."
It was the colonoscopy that revealed some startling news — Brooks had a large growth in the cecum, a large pouch at the beginning of the large intestine. Not long after that discovery, it was determined that the growth was stage four colon cancer. He was quickly scheduled for surgery.
"My initial reaction was fear," he said. "I have a wife and two small children. What was my outcome to be? This is pretty hard news for anyone and it takes a little while for it to sink in."
During surgery, the doctor discovered that the mass had grown through the colon wall and attached to his abdominal cavity. Four of the 27 lymph nodes that were removed were also positive for cancer. Eighteen inches of his large intestine were removed.
Brooks recovered well from surgery and started six months of intensive chemotherapy, which ended in November of 2010 with a scan that indicated he was cancer-free. It was exciting news, but Brooks said the relief was short lived. Six months later a follow-up scan found he had lesions on his liver.