Ever since Trey Mancini was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer in March, he’s said he considers himself lucky to have caught it so soon. He’s also pledged to use his situation as a platform to reach others, help build awareness that though certain groups are more at-risk, cancer can strike anyone, regardless of demographic.
“I’ve learned firsthand that colon cancer doesn’t discriminate when it comes to age,” Mancini, 28, said. “One in 10 colorectal cancer patients are diagnosed before age 50. While I never thought I would be in this position, I am fortunate to have a platform that allows me to help others.”
Now, Mancini is partnering with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance to advance those goals and “support my fellow fighters.” The Orioles announced Thursday that Mancini will join the organization’s “Never Too Young” advisory board, which advocates for young-onset patients and survivors. The O’s are selling #F16HT T-shirts to benefit the cause, with net proceeds going to CCA’s patient and family support services.
The shirts are available for purchase for $25, sold exclusively on Orioles.com/Auctions.
“We are pleased to partner with Trey and the Orioles organization to help raise awareness about young-onset colorectal cancer,” said Michael Sapienza, CEO of the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. “We just released our annual Never Too Young Survey Report that highlights the sad reality that diagnoses among those under 50 are on the rise, and our younger population is being misdiagnosed or their symptoms overlooked in the exam room. Trey's willingness to share his story and use his platform to advocate and bring awareness will go a long way in saving lives.”
Speaking about his illness in April, Mancini acknowledged the possibility of it going undetected had he not been a baseball player. He didn’t think much of the sluggishness and flu-like symptoms he first felt in February, considering it odd but not concerning. He underwent a routine team-performed spring physical, and a blood test revealed low iron levels. A second test showed the same. Mancini then underwent an endoscopy and colonoscopy, which revealed a malignant tumor in his colon. He had it removed March 12, the day baseball shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Mancini began chemotherapy April 13, almost exactly a month later.
It is an entire chain of events that may not have occurred for many his age but in different circumstances, including those who work in professions that don’t require regular physicals. And yet, colorectal cancer is the third-most commonly diagnosed cancer, and the second leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the United States. Trey’s father, Tony, is a survivor of the disease, which is considered very treatable in its early stages.
Mancini wants others to be proactive, and for as many people as possible that need it to receive treatment.
“I definitely want to use this to have a platform and reach some people,” Mancini said in April. “If it’s something as simple as getting a blood test every year, it’s really important. Those of us who are in our 20s ignore going for normal checkups because we don’t think anything is wrong. None of us think it can happen to us, and it can. It was definitely a wake-up call for me. Especially for someone with family history like me, it’s important to go earlier than recommended, for sure.”