In the year two thousand I self-administered a colo-rectal cancer test kit. It was as the result of a free program sponsored by Medicine Shoppes. A nice, pink postcard greeted me a few days later in my mail.
It was very matter of fact. It read…Your test came out positive;please see your local doctor…
I couldn’t believe it. Not me! Healthy as a horse, full of energy and vitality, viral and robust there was no way I could have colon cancer.
I ignored it as a scare tactic to sell me medication. Two weeks later reason reared its logical head and I decided to go to my local clinic. The Doctor did his proctology thing and told me there was no evidence of infection. However, he added, there are more thorough tests available and you should not rely on ‘just this one’.
I wrestled with it for two more weeks and reason again raised its unwelcome head. I went to my own doctor and he gave me two alternatives, either of which should give me a definitive answer. A sigmoidiscopic examination (the sigmoid is the lower part of the large intestine) was cheaper (I had no insurance) and less invasive than a colonoscopy so I opted for it.
They gave me a happy shot and I laughed myself into la-la land.
Later. when I could focus, my doctor consulted my chart. He was short and to the point. “You have a tumor in the bend of the sigmoid (that’s your large lower bowel).”
He paused and I waited…too stunned to ask the dreaded question. He said, “I have sent tissue to the lab but I can tell you right now it is malignant and needs your attention immediately.”
To foreshorten this article I am a veteran of World WarII and Korea so I ended that day being accepted under the care of the Veteran’s Administration.
The information from the medical team there was decisive and needed a no-nonsense answer now! I was informed I could take chemo and radiology which would force the tumor into remission but with no guarantee of terminating the murderous culprit. Or, I could let them use the knife and ‘probably’ forget the problem for the rest of my life.
I opted for the knife.
When I woke my Doctor happily informed me we had caught the tumor early enough so there was no further contamination in the lymph system. Chemo and radiology were unnecessary. They had taken a piece out of my colon about the length of my forearm and stitched me back together and I was good to go.