Sunday, November 17, 2019
The same smiling faces greet you at the clinic, and the new caregiver is incredibly sweet and knowledgeable. A few moments into the meeting, she explains she has carefully reviewed your records and you are past due for a colonoscopy. Just the sound of that procedure sends you to a dark place. You recall too clearly being a tween and learning your father had colon cancer. You were always under the impression you had until 50 before you needed screening.
"Well, I can't force you to have it done, but you really should."
"Are you sure about that?"
"Why don't you schedule an appointment with Gastroenterology and they can better advise you?"
"I suppose - that can't hurt, but I don't really want to go down this road. I have no symptoms."
The rest of the appointment went as you'd expect. You get home and laugh about the ridiculous idea with your husband. You push off the Gastro appointment as long as possible because you are sure your new caregiver has mis-information and you are indeed too young for anything like a colonoscopy. In fact, someone recently commented how you look like you are only 20-something.
The Gastroenterology department agrees with the OB/GYN and next thing you know you are scheduling a colonoscopy. Your head is spinning. You are suddenly 12 years old listening to your parents explain chemo, radiation, DNR orders, and eventually funeral plans. You are in a VERY ugly place. You try to cancel the appointment but your husband won't let you. Your neighbor won't let you.
The day of the procedure you can't even think. Be real - you haven't been able to concentrate for weeks. God is good though - he gives you a nurse who is also a friend and fellow farmer. She puts your mind at ease and the last thing you remember before the procedure is her promise she will be with you the entire time.
The procedure wasn't the scary part. The results are what terrifies you and yet - there's a part of you who is convinced they will find nothing and you'll laugh because you were right, you're too young for this type of medical concern.
Had you canceled that test, had you refused that test, had you waited...the outcome would have been very different.
The nurses and physician kept commenting about how happy they were you came in when you did. You, with your symptom free youthful life had not one, but TWO polyps removed from your colon. The second one was over 1cm and had stalks growing off of it. Let that sink in...
They took them out and you went home to hug your children, milk your cows, and resume your lifestyle. Knowledge is power. Now you know - you have to go often and have more colonoscopies - but you caught it early, because a stranger cared enough to read your chart and educate you about the current recommendations based on your family history.
I'm sharing this story, not because I'm anything or anyone special - but because there are more people just like me out there - they are waiting, doubting, unaware this common type of cancer can be prevented by early detection. They don't want to talk about their colon. They heard the preparation for a colonoscopy is uncomfortable.
Well - let me tell you this:
Don't wait! Whatever your excuse is - don't wait! The preparation isn't fun by any means, but it's not as bad as the flu, and life is too precious - YOU are too precious to wait.
May your paths be filled with an abundance of lemons, sugar, sunshine, and moments that remind you how precious each breath is!
Special thank you to Holy Family Memorial in Manitowoc, Wisconsin - specifically Kay Vogel, Jennifer Weier, Jeremy Anclam, and Doreen Krause.