“If you’d waited another two years we’d be dealing with cancer.” That was one of the first things I heard after my first colonoscopy one year ago today. Personal? Sure. TMI? Maybe to some. But that was a moment that triggered me. Motivated me? Woke me up if nothing else to making sure my life is what I want it to be. I’d been dealing with “health issues” since the beginning of 2020 that were new. My doctor was looking into a few things, test were done, meds were tried, and then it was time for the specialist. I was in her office for less than 15 minutes start to finish, and in that time she’d started with “we’ll do some tests and decide if we need to schedule a colonoscopy.” and switched to “I think we need to just do the colonoscopy. We’re going to need to check for cancer.” She said a few other things after that but my brain was stuck on her use of the word cancer.
I went home from that appointment a little rattled. I mean, I didn’t like having anyone use the C word regarding my health, but then I decided we were both probably overreacting. Two days after that appointment Chadwick Boseman, a man my age, died. When they said he died from colon cancer I spent the rest of my evening running down the rabbit hole. Attached to one article was a questionaire – 9 Signs You Might be Dealing With Colon Cancer. I took the test and scored 7 out of 9.
The next two weeks were fun for my husband! I flipped back and forth from I absolutely was dealing with colon cancer, and I absolutley was a hypochondriac and was probably wasting everyone’s time. That was the mindset I went into the actual procedure with two weeks later – I’m going to have to apologize for wasting everyone’s time.
When the results came back I was relieved. But I was also well aware that I’d gotten lucky. I had a great NP who was going to get to the bottom of things. And I had a great RN cousin who was willing to answer a few embarassing questions and gave me the recommendation to the specialist that I trusted right away. If you’re 45+ talk to your doctor now, and make sure you’re getting scheduled for your colonoscopy.
They’ve reduced the suggested age to 45 because the number of younger people – people like Chadwick Boseman – are a fast growing number of colon cancer patients. There’s no need to wait for 50 anymore. My symptoms were the types of symptoms that we sometimes ignore. Please don’t ignore them. Please have enough faith in yourself to trust when you think something might be wrong, even if it’s embarasing to talk about. That embarassing conversation could absolutely save your life.