Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Cross This Off My List

Part 1 – National Colon/Rectal Cancer Month

This month is the annual push for colonoscopies to hopefully prevent a cancer that can be prevented. Not only be prevented, but treatable when caught early enough. Yet so many will ignore this life saving recommendation. For the second year in a row (it was only supposed to be once – but my body did not cooperate with the “clean out” so it had to be repeated), I underwent a colonoscopy today. I also underwent an endoscopy at the same time. More on that later.

My prep was a little more involved this year because of issues I had last year, but for the average person, it is usually just a heavy dose of a laxative the night before the scoping. Depending on the method, yes, there is a large quantity to drink, but it is doable, and many times, you can drink any fluid to mix with the drug. Overnight, you sleep it off. Then you go for the procedure. Most people will be put into twilight anesthesia, meaning you will not remember anything other than the time on the clock on the wall. Again, because I have complicated cancer-related issues, I cannot do twilight, so I am out cold. I have no idea what has been done, but for those who are afraid of this simple test, here is what I felt like afterwards… nothing. I did not walk funny. Nothing leaked out of my butt (sorry for the graphic, but trying to prove a point for the fearsome). Except for a little groggy, I was good to go home in fifteen minutes. I have no recollection of this afternoon. But here is what I will find out and know.

I will find out if polyps had been removed. If they were, they will be tested. If cancerous, that is one road to cross, and hopefully caught early. If not cancerous, the polyp was prevented from becoming cancer. See the urgency of this test? Yet many of you will still blow this recommendation by your doctor for literally no acceptable reason. If your doctor recommends it, you are a fool not to do it.

My situation is a little more complicated because I have other underlying issues. But then again, just like the average person going through a colonoscopy, prevention and screening for my long term cancer survivor issues is the reason I went through my “pig on the spit” day. I mentioned to my doctor before I went out, all asked was to make sure that my breath did not smell like shit when I woke up. Today, just like last year, I went through two procedures at the same time, a colonoscopy and endoscopy. And as my “pig on the spit” comment implies, cameras went through both ends.

The purpose was two-fold. One, to make sure there is no secondary cancer to my Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Two, to deal with situations that can actually lead up to the development of secondary cancers for me. The extreme treatments I went through more than 25 years ago have left certain areas of my body at risk for some nasty issues. But the great thing is, I am under constant surveillance to prevent, or catch if necessary, things before they get bad, unlike what happened with my heart nearly six years ago.

Radiation reeked havoc on my esophagus. After several years, I have developed some slight swallowing issues, as well as some reflux problems. Long story short, the old esophagus does not work as well as it should. I have two things called Esophogitis Esophanil which I do not fully understand, and honestly neither do the doctors, and something called Barrett’s Esophagus. This is the one factor being watched because it can lead to cancer of the esophagus. Usually biopsies are taken, and occasionally other tests are done just to make sure. So far, neither issue has advanced dramatically. So I do not expect the news to change much if at all when I hear.

The colonoscopy is done because of the increased risk of colon cancer for me from going through the strong types of treatments. I do know polyps were removed last year, and I expect that some have been removed this time. The thing I am grateful for was that the polyps last year did not have the chance to turn cancerous. Hopefully the same result occurs this year.

Do you get my drift? If you can prevent cancer, why not do it? And this is one that can be prevented or if necessary treated if caught early enough.

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