Thursday, August 21, 2008

Happy Anniversary to me!

Today, August 21st, 2008, is the second anniversary of my colon resection, giving me a surgical cure from stage one colon cancer.

To recap: I had been having "problems" for several months, with all the symptoms pointing to something heart related. In the course of treatment, my primary care physician sent me off to have a colonoscopy. Even without a history of colorectal cancer in my family, since I was 51, my doctor thought it would be best to get scoped. Well, bless her heart! The procedure revealed one single polyp, with cancer on the tip. I then consulted with a colorectal surgeon, who explained to me that, if I had surgery immediately, my chances of survial was 93%. If I waited 3 to 5 years, my chance of survival dropped to near zero. So I opted for surgery.

Prepping for a colonoscopy, or for a colon resection, is legendary. And many of us who have gone through it, consider the prep worse than the exam and/or surgery. But, when you consider the alternative, it's worth it all. Because of other things going on inside me, my surgery lasted a lot longer than expected. But the operation was a complete success and I have passed several checkups since then with flying colors.

I had a great support system at home. My wife made sure I made it to all my scheduled appointments, she encouraged me every step of the way and had great confidence in my doctors, as did I, that all would go well, which it did. And with our dogs, as well as our now three-month old son Jimmy, I have plenty of love, giving me all the reason I need to stay healthy.

I want to encourage everyone to be tested for colorectal cancer. If you are 50 years or older, or have a history of colorectal cancer in your family, you should be tested. With a history of colorectal cancer in your family, you should start getting checked at an age 10 years earlier than your relative's diagnosis. Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes on cancer deaths in the United States, but one of the easiest forms of cancer to defeat.

Don't be afraid, or ashamed of getting screened. Many times, people are told (or even ridiculed) by friends, or even physicians, that they couldn't possibly have colon cancer, or are misdiagnosed as having something else alltogether. I would encourage you to stay on top of things. After all, you are as vital a member of your health care team as any doctor. Ask for advice, keep searching for answers, until you are completely satisfied that your health care is on the proper course. After all, it is your health and your life. Be proactive in taking care of yourself. If you have any questions, ask your doctor, or contact your local chapter of the American Cancer Society.

Colon cancer, or a cancer diagnosis of any kind, need no longer be a death sentence, where you just sit around, put your affairs in order and wait to die. Now, many people are living for a great many years after a cancer diagnosis, thanks to advances in medicine and an aggressive treatment plan. It's worth the effort.

I beat cancer and I want everyone else to know that it can be done. Thanks for reading.

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