It is cancer.
Three words. Three life changing words.
According to the American Cancer Society, there will be 1,638,910 new cancer cases in 2012. Break that down daily, and 4552 people each and every day will hear those three words.
Wednesday, August 22nd was my day to hear those three words.
Here is a look at my week:
On Monday, I visited a gastroenterologist for my first colonoscopy. I turned 50 last year, so I knew this screening was necessary. I had put it off, but at my annual physical a couple months ago, Dr. D chided me for not getting it done. He gave me a couple referrals. I picked one and set up the exam for the first day of my vacation. I had heard all the horror stories about the prep work necessary, and I was not looking forward to it. Much to my surprise, the toughest part of the prep was no solid food the day before. I opted for Osmoprep pills, rather than the chalky drinks no one seemed to like. 32 pills and a few trips to the bathroom and I was ready for my appointment.
Other than the IV insertion (I’m a bit of a needle-phobe), the appointment was simple. I was sedated just prior to the exam and woke up quickly in the recovery area. Propofol is an incredible drug.
Dr T. came in to discuss what he found. Two polyps were removed and an “ulcer” was found in the sigmoid colon. He didn’t think it was serious, but he grabbed tissue samples and wanted them checked at the lab. He told Cindy and I he would call with the test results in a couple days.
Everyone can remember where they were when major events occurred in the world. Reagan’s shooting, the Challenger explosion or the Twin Towers falling all bring back vivid memories of where you were or what you are doing. On a personal scale, the same thing happens. I will never forget answering the phone as I drove up the Gilbert Rd off-ramp from the southern Loop 202. It was Dr T.
“We have the test results back” said Dr. T. I replied “OK”. After a slight pause, he said, “It is cancer”.
For me, there was no wave of fear, no feeling of nausea, no flood of tears. It was a desire to ask questions and find out what I had to do next. Fortunately, Dr T. did not feel I needed immediate treatment. His office would schedule a CT Scan (Monday – 8/27). This is important as it will determine what stage my cancer is in, or to put it another way, if it is localized or has spread. Then, his office would schedule a surgery consult with a colorectal surgeon (Wednesday – 9/5). There definitely will be surgery.
I mentioned my upcoming trip next week with Cindy to New York for the U.S. Open. He insisted we go. “Let’s get the scan done before you leave and we’ll get you in with the surgeon when you get back.” The lack of a sense of urgency was calming.
I sat for a moment, deciding who to call first. My wife or my son. I opted to call Kev first since I wasn’t totally sure how I would handle myself during the call and I wanted to “practice” with Kev before I called Cindy. It went very well, and Kev, much like his old man, wanted the facts and details.
The call to Cindy was just as smooth. What do we do next and let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s follow the plan, stay positive, and get to the other side. She left work to come be with me the rest of the day. I told her she didn’t need to, but I’m really glad she did.
So, why this post on TPREG? One, I know Jay. He likes stories about life as much as he likes posts about escrow. He also hates cancer with a passion and I like riling him up. Secondly, this is a great platform to get the message out to all of you over 50 that have put off getting “scoped”. Why wait? Colon cancer, when detected early, has one of the highest cure rates. I’ve heard this many times, and I know you have as well, but I still waited over a year to get my colonoscopy done. If you are reading this and under 50, think of family and friends that need to get screened. Ask them to go get it done.
Finally, I would like to let everyone out there know one more thing. The three words that matter most to me right now?
I will win.