(and I’d read and heeded it)

Two summers ago, I noticed that I was lacking energy and my normal ambition to get things done. Plus I was taking a rest every afternoon for an hour or two. I put it down to the aging process but did mention it to my doctor when I returned from the cottage in the fall. He booked an annual medical in January 2014.

Having gone to the local lab for blood and urine tests, I was given the package for the stool test. I completed that in plenty of time before my doctor’s appointment and received a letter saying that I had passed the stool test; no blood was detected.

When I went in for my annual medical, my doctor dug the lab results out of my file and advised me my blood count was low that I was anaemic.  He told me that this was very serious, because I was probably bleeding internally. Then he asked me, “when was the last time you had a colonoscopy”.  I thought this strange since he had been my doctor for over twenty years and had never ordered one, nor had I asked for one, although I had seen the poster in his office which stated “it’s too bad we’re not transparent because colon cancer could then be detected early and easily cured”. Then the poster read “ask your doctor about a colonoscopy”. Since I had consistently passed the stool test I never considered it necessary.

The subsequent colonoscopy confirmed that I had colon cancer and I was booked for surgery, which involved removing a foot-long chunk out of my large intestine and reconnecting the two pieces.  When they remove that chunk of bowel they also remove multiple lymph nodes that are attached to it and do a biopsy on them. If any are cancerous, six month of chemotherapy is scheduled. A good number of mine were, so I was slated to start chemo in August.

Before the second session of chemo we were advised that the latest CT Scan indicated that the “spots” in my liver had grown since the previous scan. Not good!  When the cancer spreads to other organs it is considered Stage IV colon cancer. Suffice it to say you don’t want to have Stage IV colon cancer. The good news is that if no other organs are affected and liver surgery is possible, the chances of a cure are greatly increased.

We’re still hopeful that the next five treatments of chemo will reduce the size of the lesions in my liver will make liver surgery possible or even unnecessary.

My situation is what it is, but I’d like to use my experience to hopefully save the lives of others who may be living with the early stages of colon cancer and don’t know it. A colonoscopy will detect polyps growing in your bowel and remove them before they become cancerous.

Since being diagnosed I’ve noticed several articles and letters to the editor in the newspapers recommending routine colonoscopies. I’ll bet they have been there all along, but I glossed over them, and  didn’t heed them, thinking that it would never happen to me.

Please listen to this advice. If you are over fifty and have never had a colonoscopy, ask your doctor to book one, and then another, every five years.   Additionally, don’t be fooled by positive results from the stool test, most doctors consider it to be essentially useless.

Bob Mulvihill 6383

Class of ‘65