So I’ve been going back and forth about writing this blog post for a week now but I’ve decided to go on and write it. My only hesitation is that some of my friends are about to find out something that happened to me recently via the internet/FB as a result of posting this and I generally think that is kind of shitty. I am blessed with LOTS of friends who are scattered all over the world. Friends from when I was a kid, from high school, from college, from all my years working in theatre, from my years blogging on the internet back in the early 2000’s, from writers groups on FB and so on and so on. When something big happens it can be difficult to get everyone notified. Hell it can be hard to get everyone you see/talk to on weekly basis notified as I have recently discovered. But I am going to proceed because I think it’s important to get this information out to anyone who might actually read. So to those of you who I love and who love me but are finding out about this event here, I apologize. It all happened kinda fast and I did the best I could with the notifications.
So I recently (as in last week) turned 54. Most of us here in the States know that it is generally recommended that you get your first colonoscopy done when you turn 50. I put mine off. Mostly because I didn’t have the co-pay when I turned 50. It’s considered out patient surgery and thus my insurance at that time had a $500 co-pay. Something I’ve discovered since then is that part of the ACA is that all co-pays are waived for cancer screening colonoscopies. They did that because people like me put them off due to a high co-pay. But if you don’t KNOW that it will be waived, if you are like me and instead of checking you just put it off…well you can’t find out about this very useful aspect of the ACA so you can proceed to use this brilliant medical test we have available to us.
So I got my first colonoscopy this past February on the 26th. No big deal, everything went perfectly. Until the GI Doc called and wanted me to come in to discuss my results. We all know what THAT means. Sure enough I go in and the Doc tells me they removed two polyps and one of them had cancer cells. Now the way this works is if the polyp has cancer cells that are NOT up against the wall of your intestine then the removal of the polyp is the end of the event. All good. BUT if the cancer cells are found right up against the wall then that makes everyone a bit more nervous. It’s possible the cancer cells have migrated into the wall of the intestine or possibly through the wall into the lymph nodes that are scattered along the outside of your intestines. (Did you know there were lymph nodes scattered outside your intestines just hanging out in your abdominal area? I didn’t. The More You Know eh?) Of course the polyp removed from my large intestine had cancer cells right up against the wall. The GI Doc explained that he felt quite certain he had gotten everything but no one wants to take chances with this and as such the next step was surgery. So that’s what we did.
The surgery was March 27th and included a laparoscopic procedure that involved removing about six to eight inches of my large intestine (the beginning section of large intestine that runs up the right side of your abdomen) reconnecting my small intestine to the remaining portion of large intestine (we all really have miles and miles of it so not a big loss at the end of the day), and removing a bunch of lymph nodes to test. The surgery went perfectly and I spent a few days in the hospital recovering and getting my digestive system to wake up after the surgery.
Just yesterday I got confirmation from my Doc that the pathology report came back clear of cancer cells in the removed section of large intestine and clear of cancer cells in all the lymph nodes. Best news ever.
Now if they had found any I would have done some chemo and by all accounts that would have taken care of it pretty quickly. I’m grateful I don’t have to do that but again, I’m also grateful that this is one of the most successfully treated cancers humans can get.
So here’s the public service portion of this post.
Please, PLEASE GET YOUR CANCER SCREENINGS DONE!!
I have no way of knowing if it would have been better or worse if I had gotten my colonoscopy done when I was 50. But I do know that if I had waited three more years this would have been a much different story I’d be telling today. I’m very aware of the short comings of the medical world and how it deals with people at the same time I am a HUGE fan of modern medicine and science and I want to make sure I use it to my best advantage. Because the truth is things like this are a straight up miracle compared to what was available to my grandparents.
That’s my story today…I’m feeling lucky that my incisions are itchy and annoying because they are healing up. I’m feeling lucky that I have a husband who showed up every day calm and loving and funny through what has turned out to be a small health bump rather than a terrifying mountain. I’m feeling lucky to have family that was loving and calm and supportive. I’m feeling lucky to have an employer who has been so supportive and allowed me to work from home last week and this week. I’m feeling lucky to have so many good friends who sent me their love and support. I’m feeling really, really lucky.