Sunday, March 8, 2009

In the Anals* of My History

I knew.

Between the constantly popping Pepcids and being told "We've found a small mass"...

I knew.

Amidst frantically scouring the internet and flipflopping back and forth between moving forward to call my GP and staying put, hoping it would go away...

I knew.

While taking all the initial tests, and downing a course of antibiotics for an alleged gut bug...

I knew.

I knew I had colon cancer.

With every fibre of my being, I knew.

And I so desperately did not want to know.

I wanted to tuck it into the furthest corner of the attic, out of sight, out of mind, with the fervent hope that it would go away, nibbled to some minute pile of pulp by marauding squirrels.

But I knew.

I finally knew, and finally came to the awful conclusion that if I did nothing, it would not go away.

That it would never go away. But I might, if I did not act.

Because here's what else I knew. I knew that somewhere in amongst my dysfunctional viscera were a heart and a soul that were inextricably interconnected with my husband and my sons, and I could not imagine a life without them.

I knew that making that first call would be opening a horrific, debasing, potentially bad-news-all-around can of worms.

But I did it anyway.

Mind you, this was not without a struggle. A long, drawn-out, exhausting internal struggle.

Because I knew that once the call was made - poof! My current life would vanish.

But I knew.

So I did it.

And what about you? What should you know?

You should know, as witnessed by my button on the top right, that March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. The color for the ribbon is either brown or blue. (Brown? Seriously? Gah - Who the hell is the marketing genius behind this?)

You should know that, not counting skin cancers, colo-rectal cancer is the third most common cancer found in men and women in the US. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 108,070 new cases of colon cancer and 40,740 new cases of rectal cancer in 2008 in the United States. Combined, they will cause about 49,960 deaths.

But it doesn't have to be this way.

Early diagnosis is key to successfully treating the disease; there's a 90% cure rate if caught early enough.

Part of the problem is receiving early diagnosis. Because this is a nasty disease in an equally nasty location. No one wants to tell anyone about problems with their plumbing.

No one wants to have their booty under scrutiny, in the best of circumstances. OK, OK, there are some, but chances are they belong to a different subset demographic. And maybe Jennifer Lopez - because really - if I had an ass like hers, I would be showing it off all the time...

Sadly, a lot of people wait.

And wait.

And wait some more.

Until the disease has significantly progressed.

Sometimes, though, people aren't even aware they are waiting; there may be no noticeable early warnings. It can be silent and stealthy.

This is why regular screening after the age of 50 is also essential. This includes making an arrangement for a colonoscopy. And if a family member has had polyps or tumours, it becomes critical that you get checked out.

Does it make you uncomfortable? Giving a stool sample? Thinking about someone - a trained professional, may I add - going in through your back door to assure you that you have a clean bill of health?

Believe me.

No one has ever died from embarrassment.

I know.

(* I also know that I spelled this incorrectly. Language police, begone with you.)


♥~♥ Tracey ♥~♥ said...

Excellent post! Informative and touching! Thank you for knowing and doing something about it. Cuz, I really am glad you are still around to send me wonderful postcards ;0)


Baroness von B said...

Countess Tracey: And let me tell you,I am glad to be around to go to all these places to send you postcards from!

Blog Antagonist said...

A very dear friend of mine died last year from colon cancer. He was my age, ridiculously young. And he had no symptoms until he was terminal.

So I know. And still I put off certain things. I'm a chronic doctor avoider.

So thanks for the reminder.

Anonymous said...

I just had that birthday. I haven't been looking forward to anyone checking my pipes. I guess I'd better suck it up...
Thanks Cupcake.

RiverPoet said...

What a wonderful reminder!

I got treated to a colonoscopy in the ICU after a major, life-threatening gastrointestinal bleed. I was knocked out for the whole thing and couldn't tell you a thing about what it was like. My husband, my brother, and even my daughter have had theirs. The world didn't end. Thankfully we are clear of cancer, though we have some other lovely issues.

Great reminder here, Baroness! You never know whose life you've just saved.

peace - D

Mental P Mama said...

I am so glad you got over that fear and made your call. I have a dear friend who was diagnosed at 43--something made him schedule a colonoscopy--and he was also given a clean bill last year. Thank you for posting this. And your creative license with the spelling is spot on!

Anonymous said...

Wow Mom, that was an amazing post...thank you so much for it, even though I am aware that Dr.Ted will probably have to go look up my pooper from when I'm 30 every year until I die.
But one thing's for sure...I will not die from embarrassment either.

Duck said...

Good to know all this, thank you!

Both of my parents recently had this done. I didn't hear any complaints so it is doable.

Sandi said...

I had one in November even though I'm only 40. Here's what I tell people.

It's not bad at all. It doesn't hurt.

Everyone told me prepping for it was awful. That wasn't so bad either. I really do not see the big deal in this.

Thank you for this post.

Baroness von B said...

Countess BA: The age aspect seemed to be a hot topic of discussion during my diagnosis as well - it is this group which falls through the cracks (pun intended). Like most devastation, it does not discriminate and the split of men to women is almost 50/50. Please don't put it off. Initially, it's just a easy poop test you play at home.

Countess AG: I can't tell you what to do. That being said, as a professional nagger, I can squawk you into submission.

Countess D: Write what you know, they say. My only hope is that someone reads or passes the info along to someone who needs it; I wouldn't wish this ordeal upon my worst enemy. I am so pleased that your clan is free of that worry.

Countess MPM: Yay to your friend for doing this! I hope he has set an example for others to follow.
(uh, hello? subtle hint...)

Duke #2: It is one of those crappy (pun intended) facts of life that you and your brother will have to be tested earlier than most. But if getting you in earlier nips things in the bud (again, pun intended), then this is a good thing, non? Love ya, honey - forever and always.

Countess of Quack: Thank you for commenting about this - it is COMPLETELY doable!

Countess Sandi: Not unlike wisdom teeth removal or labour, endless horror stories abound about colonoscopies.

Yes, the prep is not the most fun I ever had, but I sure felt squeaky clean (and slightly hollow) afterwards...

formerly fun said...

I had a colonoscopy last year because I have recurrent canker sores in my mouth(like 20 at a time) and they wanted to rule out Crohn's. The prep was hideous but short-lived, the procedure I wasn't awake for and the first thing I ate afterward, a toasty bagel with cream cheese tasted unbelievably good.

I'm only 35 but a clean bill of health for my colon was a great feeling.

I can speak as a girl that sees vaginas all day long at her job, professionals do not see your body the way you do. To me, waxing a vag is no different than waxing a lip, leg, an underarm. Because of this, I did not experience any embarrassment with someone going spelunking in my bum. It's their job, they've seen hundreds of colons before yours.

Glad ou are healthy Baroness and the reply from your kid was beyond sweet.

baronessvonb said...

Countess FF: I, and the endless scores of hirsute no-no's out there, are very happy to hear that you are healthy as well. As for the boy - I love him like no other. He is a wonder.

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