The on-going, first-hand tale of a journey through medical oncology... and what happens after.

Monday, June 4, 2007


Anticipating the "next thing" has really turned out to be the most difficult part of this journey. I feel like there is no limit to the number of "thought moments" between events... first we have the symptom (some blood in the toilet after a bowel movement - not a lot, but not expected either). Is it a big deal? Let's wait to see what happens the next time... Yup, there it is again. Hemorrhoids? Probably... Hmmm, should I get that confirmed, or just get some OTC medication to get back to normal. I don't know... OK, fine, make an appointment with the family doctor and get this checked out. It's not an emergency, so, sure, I can wait 'til next week for an appointment, no problem. Oh, there is a small hemorrhoid there, but it isn't bleeding and doesn't look bad. Nothing that I can feel... Then I mentioned a family history of polyps - both on my Mom and Dad's sides. OK - I'll get a colonoscopy... thanks for the referral! Again, weeks go by in real time, but I am thinking about the exam constantly. Two days of slow starvation and a couple of phos-phosphosodas later, the exam finds a single sessile polyp about 15 cm "up" in my colon/rectum (more on the difference here in later posts, I'm sure). Now we need to figure out if it is benign or malignant - should know in a day or so... And all before anything related to "cancer" is even discussed. [Unsolicited advice here... GET A COLONOSCOPY! If your family has had any history of colon cancer (metastatic or otherwise) or polypectomies, you should get a screening colonoscopy when you are ten years younger than they were at their diagnosis. For example, if my Dad had polyps detected and removed at age 50, which is the standard age for doctors to recommend screening colonoscopies, then I should have gotten my first colonoscopy at age 40. Early detection SIGNIFICANTLY improves your treatment options and chances of complete cure/long-term survival.]

An eternity of waiting over the course of several weeks. Our minds are incredible organs. And with the support of friends and family, I have managed to survive the eternal waiting fairly well. It just feels like you can never really get away from thinking about "the next thing"... And in only two days the chemo-therapy begins.

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