Monday, March 05, 2007

Everyone's got one but no one is talking about it

Do you know what this month is?

I'll give you some hints: It's not sexy. You probably won't find any provocative statements regarding it printed on a t-shirt. The news media won't be coming out in droves to promote it. I'm doubtful that many glamorous Hollywood parties will be thrown to raise money for it. And yet, it's the second leading cancer killer in North America. And almost 154,000 people will diagnosed this year. Just this year. And more than 52,000 men and women - mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends - will die.

Have you guessed yet?

It's Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

That's right. A whole month dedicated to getting to know your colon and your rectum. Not as fun as self breast exams. No need to protest big tobacco. And despite their best efforts to promote it to the masses, without the aid of The Couric Effect hardly anyone outside of those already touched by this disease would know about it. So I feel it is my duty to let you know that this month is as good as any to have your colon screened.

The medical community, or more specifically, the insurance companies, want you to start getting screened for colorectal cancer when you reach the age of 50. My mother was 44 when she was diagnosed. A few acquaintances of hers were also in their early 40s when they were diagnosed. This woman was 38 when she found out she had colon cancer. How old are you right now?

This year I'll be 35, the magic age that my mother's doctor told me I should start getting screened at so many years ago. I'm not looking forward to it, any of it: the fighting with the insurance company, the prep, the actual procedure, none of it. Let's face it, no one wants a camera up their bum. No one wants to spend the evening before drinking a gallon of that nasty liquid only to spend the rest of their night on the toilet (have to be squeaky clean for your motion picture debut). But the bottom line (no pun intended, really) is this:

Early detection is key to beating colon cancer. It is treatable. You don't have to die from this disease. If you have a family history, fight for your right to have a doctor prod around down there. If you think you might have some of the symptoms, regardless of your age or history, fight even harder. You are your own best advocate and nobody cares about your life more than you do. Except maybe those who love you.

Colorectal cancer is not sexy. You won't be seeing any famous actors and actresses sporting pretty scarves or jewelry in nationally televised commercials or glossy magazine ads to promote it. No, it is not sexy.

But the toll it takes on your body is even worse.

And death is never sexy.

Be proud to say "I've got a colon". Everyone's got one, who cares who knows about it? Get off your ass and get it checked.

Get screened.

42 comments:

Cate said...

Yo Chicky --
I've had the colonoscopy. There's tons of cancer in my family, so I had it starting at the tender age of 30. Mammograms, too. None of it is fun, but hell, more fun than cancer.

The prep is worse than the event. I was knocked out entirely. I woke up in another room, they gave me some cinnamon toast, and said come back in five years. I felt pretty good after, because I'd done something about it instead of just being scared.

But it's true this is the cancer no one talks about. So thanks for bringing it up.

metro mama said...

Someone has to talk about these things. Thanks.

Velma said...

I had what turned out to be an attack of diverticulitis a couple years ago and had to have a colonoscopy at 38. It's one of those things that people talk about a little bit like a club - once you've had one, you can nod wisely and agree that the prep is the worst part. (Especially when you have a 2 and 4 year old at home with you while you are "cleansing.")

People need to be aware that early detection is crucial, and that there is nothing shameful or dirty or squicky about taking care of yourself.

Take it from me - it turns out the guy who performed my colonoscopy works with my husband. Now I get to fake a smile if we run into him socially, making small talk with a guy who stuck a camera up my butt. Yeah, it's awkward, but now I know I'm okay, and that is worth everything.

Redneck Mommy said...

Great post chicky.

I talked about poop on my blog, but this post is the REAL shit.

I've got a few years to go before facing the prospect of having my ass in video, but when the time comes around, I won't hesitate to have a colonoscopy.

I can think of worse things being shoved up there.

Thanks for the public service announcement.

Well done.

Redneck Mommy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SJ said...

My father was diagnosed with colon cancer about three years ago, so yes, it affects me.

Thanks for writing this, you are right more people need to be aware!!!

Redneck Mommy said...

Oops, sorry for the double post. I'm just click happy today...

Damselfly said...

That last line was great! Heh.

I really don't think that much about my colon. If I did, would I have my head up my ass? ;)

Blog Antagonist said...

SIGH....yes. I know. It's time. A good friend of mine, who is younger than I am, was diagnosed with stage 4 Colon Cancer last year. He is fighting hard, but it's a tenacious little fucker. I don wanna. But I will. Thanks for the reminder.

Meena said...

Bravo to you for bringing up this very important issue.

A close friend of my husband's business partner just found out he has stage III colorectal cancer. He had been having what some would consider obvious signs (bleeding), but he had a serious fear of doctors, so didn't go in for a while. He is going to start chemo this week, followed by surgery to remove the tumor and part of his colon/rectum, then more chemo. He is 50, has always been very active (has ran over 10 marathons, including the Boston marathon) and had a very healthy lifestyle. It can happen to anybody.

MotherBumper said...

Yes, yes - well said and very informative. No one likes to talk about their ass unless they're JLo but we need to know, and we all know that education is the best line of defense. You go Mrs. Chicky!

PunditMom said...

Yes, ma'am. I've been putting mine off for a few months (not that I'm that magic age of 50) yet, but I have an unnatural fear of anesthesia. I'm calling -- I'm calling.

Avalon said...

Thanks Mrs. C for raising a "poopy" topic. My grandmother died of Colon Cancer that had metastasized to her Liver beforwe it was discovered. I'm only 41, but because of other GI issues, i have had several colonoscopies ( just for shits-n-giggles!). they're not nearly as bad as they sound, and they can save lives.

margalit said...

My BFF's husband is dying of colorectal cancer. He was diagnosed 5 years ago, after his father was also diagnosed. He was stage 4 at the beginning. It has spread to his lungs, liver, and now his brain.

And yet, at 54, I have yet to have a colonoscopy. First I didn't have insurance, and then when I got insurance at the beginning of this month, it wouldn't pay for the prep, which was too expensive for me to pay for myself. I have to have a special prep due to my diabetes, and the freaking insurance CO refused! Even the doctors at the colo-clinic were astounded.

So I'm in a waiting pattern. Which sucks. My family has no incidences of colon cancer, but still, I'd like to know.

Thanks for posting this!

kyle said...

I am a lurker that has come out of hiding to thank you so much for posting this!! My fiancee died 3 years ago this month from stage 4 colon cancer after months of telling his doctor something was wrong but the doctor didn't believe anyone so young (30) should have a colonoscopy.
thank you for saving lives!

Oh, The Joys said...

This is a great and informative post!
(and I'm sure now one would doubt how proud I am of my colon.)

Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" said...

Excellent!
I don't have to go till next year...according to my exam schedule...I'm on it. Literally.

Good heads up to those not in the know.

Mamacita Tina said...

Insurance companies need to get their heads out of their asses and just cover such exams.

Good for you bringing this up!

jen said...

Amen. My grandfather died from colon cancer, and it's on my list.

get off your ass and let someone inside of it, should be the entire slogan, madame chick...

Beth said...

GREAT MESSAGE! Thank you!

Kyla said...

Good stuff...but I must admit I'm a bit relieved that I don't need a camera up my bum for 12 years or so. Whew. But when it is time, I'll put on, or rather take off, my big girl panties and go for it.

Her Bad Mother said...

Yes. THANK YOU.

ewe are here said...

Thank you.

People don't alway get how important it is to focus on the preventative side.

Mrs. Chicken said...

Thanks for letting me know about this - I'll do a post, too.

Since my dad was young, like your mom, I had my first colonoscopy two years ago at 33. It wasn't that bad at all - and the nap at the end is great.

As soon as everyone here is done barfing I'll get to it.

Kristin said...

sigh.

I'm 37.

It's on my list.

Jill said...

As one who's seen too much cancer, here here!

mo-wo said...

You would think there is some pithy semi colon line that should make it to a tshirt? We should work on that.

lisa's chaos said...

There is a semi-colon group for people who've had surgery for the cancer. :)

Thanx Chicky! We gotta get the word out, and I had no family history of any cancer when I was diagnosed.

It's the fact we don't talk about it that makes it too easily overlooked. It's the fact we don't talk about it that made me suffer through 6 years of symptoms before doing something. I was an idiot, a terrified-of-the-embarrassment, oh-it's-probably-just-hemorrhoids, totally full of embarrassment idiot. I hope no one else is.

kgirl said...

you said it. gals, pass it on.

Sarah said...

Good luck with your screening; I hope it goes well.

Kelly said...

My mom was diagnosed with Stage IIIb colon cancer five weeks after the birth of my second child. She wrapped up chemo in July of '06 and has been cancer-free since.

I just had a colonoscopy last month. The test itself, a piece of cake, because they gave me some damn good drugs. The prep sucked, though.

The thing that pisses me off about insurance companies is this: my mother wanted to have a colonoscopy at age 50, but her insurance company wouldn't pay for it because she had no family history. Well, guess what. If they had just sucked it up and paid for the test, they probably would have found polyps, removed them, and the cost would have been a whole lot less than paying for major surgery and chemotherapy.

Ugh.

Anyway, thanks for this post. You're absolutely right about this kind of cancer. No pink marketing surrounding this one, so spreading the word is essential.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Thank you for posting this! I'm embarrassed to say I had no idea of this yet I lost my father to colorectal cancer two years ago. To anyone who is afraid to have an exam, let me tell you that dying from the disease is one of the most horrible, most painful things that can happen, so please, please, please get tested, especially if you have a family history. When at Dana Farber, the doctor told me I need to get examined at an age 10 years younger than when my dad's first polop was found---he was 50, so that means that I get my first exam this year. I'm sure it won't be fun but I'll be thinking of my dad and wishing he were still with around and not a victim of this disease.

Kate said...

Great post on getting the word out!

kittenpie said...

It's too bad your scope couldn't be right after your puking - you'd be pretty darn cleaned out by that, I'd think! Glad you're feeling better.

FENICLE said...

As a 29 year old, I've had 4 colonoscopy's in the past 2 1/2 years (no family history, mine was from a bad car accident and by removing some sections of intestines this test is needed every so often) - let me just say it wasn't at all BAD! Yes, the prep isn't too fun. But it cleans you out good :) And now they actually make pills you can take (I think you have to take a lot though every hour) instead of drinking the yucky stuff!

I never remember anything. Make sure you get a good Gastro dr and I promise it won't be as terrible as it sounds!

gingajoy said...

My Mum's just had one--she has IBM and diavetriculatis (sp?)

Can we get them routinely if we have no history or symptoms? (not that I'm gagging to have one, but neither am I relishing getting my boobs squeezed between two metal plates in the next year. YUM!)

Good for you spreading the word, Mrs C.

Dirty Birdie said...

Robin Williams did a very funny stand up about getting a colonoscopy. I spit milk out my nose.

A very good friend of mine had a bought of colon cancer, it was terrible. They had to go in and take out some of his intestine and he has to get checked every 6 months. The scary thing is, he never even felt sick. He's a post boy for getting your oclon checked. If he hadn't had a regular check-up they would not have found it until it was too late.

sweatpantsmom said...

Thanks for the wake-up call! I just read another post reminding me to get my teeth cleaned, but this one is much more important.

(I just saw this segment on the news about a woman who has a traveling, walk-thru giant colon show. A little disturbing, but probably very informative.)

Jenny said...

Thanks for the reminder, Chicky.

lisa's chaos said...

Gingajoy - You can check with your insurance company as some do and some do not allow routine colonoscopies. Most allow once you are over age 50, we're working on getting that age younger.

I do know of people who have lied to the doctor saying they have seen blood and gotten around their insurance that way.

mothergoosemouse said...

Thanks for the valuable reminder. Frankly, I'd rather have a camera up my ass than a colostomy bag hanging off my side like my late grandfather, and I know he was damn glad to have that bag instead of the alternative.

Lena said...

You know I hold this issue close to my heart as well. I had my colonoscopy last year and it was a BREEZE!

The liquid though - pretty foul.