Monday, July 12, 2010

nip it in the bud

Thought I'd blog about colon cancer today since they have billboards all over utah at the moment reminding you to go in for screening if you are 50 or over. I, of course, am not over 50 but luckily did get a screening done last november and possibly saved my life. Who should get a colonoscopy? EVERYONE age 50 or over. People who may need one sooner and should discuss it with their doctor include type 2 diabetics, smokers, brca1 mutants, possibly brca2 mutants, those with a strong family history, those who don't exercise much or don't get enough fiber in their diets, those who have had inflammatory bowel diseases, like ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, those who consume large amounts of alcohol and those with symptoms.

Most people do not have symptoms of colon cancer in the early stages, but here are some things to look for as advised by the american cancer society:

Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer may cause one or more of the symptoms below. If you have any of the following you should see your doctor:
  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
  • Rectal bleeding, dark stools, or blood in the stool (often, though, the stool will look normal)
  • Cramping or abdominal (stomach area) pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss
Most of these symptoms are more likely to be caused by conditions other than colorectal cancer, such as infection, hemorrhoids, or inflammatory bowel disease. Still, if you have any of these problems, it's important to see your doctor right away so the cause can be found and treated, if needed.

Of course most of the symptoms could mean anything! If you want a fun way to track your poo try this iphone app, poo log by Josh Richman & Anish Sheth MD, authors of "What's Your Poo Telling You?"

As for the actual colonoscopy, it was not bad. In and out in less than two hours (from waiting room to recovery and that included removing my polyps). I did need a person to drive me because I opted to be put asleep (wasn't anesthesia though). If you ask around, you should be able to find someone willing to leave you conscious for the procedure but you will be given something so you are not in any pain (as seen on the Katie Couric link on the left).

The fast and shit the day before is probably the worst thing of the whole procedure but is not as bad as I thought. I love food and couldn't imagine going an entire day without eating. I was allowed to drink clear fluids, eat jello and drink broth, so at least I didn't feel like I was starving. As for the toilet, stay close as the day goes on and have a good book nearby:)

Some people may be short on cash or lacking insurance. If that is the case, a lot of states have programs available for free screening. Here is a link for help in utah. Google your state and  "free cancer screenings" to find help in your area.

Chances are if you are reading this and don't think you fit the bill for early screening, someone you know is probably over 50. Next time you talk to your parents, aunts, uncles, older cousins go ahead and ask them if they've been screened. You need to know their history anyway. And a reminder to my siblings reading this: you need early screening due to my polyps.

I've been told by someone that they are not going to bother with any type of screening because death is a natural process and they are not afraid. Well, I guess I wouldn't be as afraid if I thought I could go to bed one night feeling good and just not wake up. But death is not usually kind. My uncle died a painful, early death from colon cancer. Sometimes life is not kind either. I would gladly go through a day of the fast and shit and colonoscopy to avoid wearing a poop bag the rest of my life. Just my personal opinion...

On a happier note, fatty is taking pre-orders for his 2011 cycling gear now through next monday! Twin Six and fatty are donating part of the proceeds to livestrong. If you wear bike clothes check it out. And he has some cool hoodies for the low price of $30. If you are in the need for some new duds or even new water bottles, order now and help raise money for livestrong.

No comments:

Post a Comment