It’s March: Time To Cover Your A$$

POSTED BY JESSE

I was checking out the Mothers With Cancer blog when I came across a post alerting me that March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. I figured that would probably be a good thing to pass on to our blog readers since, you know, it’s kind of relevant to our situation here.

I am sure that March was designated as the month for colorectal cancer awareness before Lisa was diagnosed with hers, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she planned her trip to heaven as a lead-in to Awareness Month; she was a meticulous planner. And this may be too blunt for some people, but it’s a fact: in March 2009 no one had a clue that Lisa’s gastrointestinal tract was a ticking time bomb; by March 2010 she was gone. If that’s not reason enough to get your colonoscopy, I’m sorry–that’s the best I got.

How clueless were we? Extremely. Ignorant enough that I didn’t even know what one was or why you got one before Lisa had hers. And based on our family email chain the week Lisa went to get checked out, you can tell that none of us had a clue what we were in for (the topic was the family Christmas exchange, but as you can see we took a turn into Lisa’s impending screening):

Sallie: I’ll take Lisa! I have lots of potty/poop-related items in mind. Sam will put together a collection of his favorite poopy diapers for her too. (Danny told me to say it!)

Danny: I DID NOT.  Her poop is off limits for me.  I have pledged not to make any jokes about her colon…and except for putting together a care package for her the other night (had each kid go find something potty related to put by her bed – magazine, plunger, t. paper, crossword puzzle), I have done well.

Me: what’s up with Lisa’s colon? And if she gets it -oscopied is there anything we can get bronzed? Or how about poo-wtered? [note: this was in reference to my mother giving us all our bronzed baby shoes one Christmas]

Sallie: Poo-tered – I laughed so hard I nearly peed in my pants. For once it is not me as the “butt” of the joke!

Danny: She’s been having a lot of stomach issues.  They are ruling things out.  Probably much doo doo about nothing.

Lisa: I’m not coming to Christmas [note: it is assumed she was rolling her eyes at this point]

Me: so no one has honestly answered my question about Lisa–has she been diagnosed? the closest explanation I got was Bruce saying it’s much doo-doo about nothing.

At which point my mom informed me what was happening and why, though even then she said she suspected it was Irritable Bowel Syndrome. We would have really liked an IBS diagnosis–the fatality rate is much lower and, as you can see, we could have made potty jokes for days.

So what’s it going to take to get you to get checked out? I’ve tried fear and humor. I could sprinkle in some guilt and say you owe it to those around you if you won’t do it for yourself. And if you have had any recurring/consistent stomach issues, then by all means get your ass (pun very much intended) to the doctor now.

I don’t want to get into pitting one type of cancer against another (we’ve been through colon and breast in my immediate family; I think a grandparent may have even battled leukemia at one point), but colon cancer is not currently getting the love that breast cancer awareness enjoys, with its turning everything pink. Colon cancer is less of a sexy cause, so it’s even more important we push it on the grassroots level. (I feel compelled to point out again: I am not calling for LESS breast cancer awareness, I’m calling for raised levels of colorectal cancer awareness!)

Later this month Danny and I might share some of our own experiences with getting a colonoscopy. Go ahead and make your appointment now and we’ll walk you through this thing step by step.

Here’s some more colorectal cancer screening info from the CDC:

-“Among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer—cancer of the colon or rectum—is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Colorectal cancer also is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States.”

-“It is estimated that as many as 60% of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented if all men and women aged 50 years or older were screened routinely.”

-“You should begin screening for colorectal cancer soon after turning 50, then continue getting screened at regular intervals. However, you may need to be tested earlier or more often than other people if:

  • You or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer; or
  • You have inflammatory bowel disease.”
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14 Comments

  1. Aunt Susan

     /  March 5, 2011

    Thank you Jesse for this post, it maybe one of the most important you’ve done. Please remind folks over and over, it cannot be stressed enough. The the “scope” isn’t that bad. I’m just glad I didn’t get involved with the poop jokes. Much doo-doo about nothing? really!!

    Reply
  2. charlotte gregory

     /  March 5, 2011

    Just no video, I beg you.

    Reply
  3. Jean

     /  March 5, 2011

    Lisa would like this, Jessie, even if you did joke about it. I think we are left to carry on her battle since she can’t do it. If she were here, she’d be planning fund raising functions all over the place. That’s the way we can make her death have some lasting meaning for other people. I think Lisa might be rolling her eyes at this but with a little smile hovering under it all.

    Reply
  4. Patty Thomson

     /  March 5, 2011

    thank you for this posting. People become ostriches when it comes to breast and colon exams. I am up to date on both and even though neither exam is on the top of the list of favorite things to do, they are on the top of the I MUST DO list. Keep it up.

    Reply
  5. Thanks for posting. Your family sounds like mine when it comes to medical irreverence. We took my mom for hers 2 months ago, but not before taking a sharpie to her and writing things like “this end up,” “Certified USDA Grade,” “Caution: Spontaneous Emissions.” (tmi?)

    Reply
  6. I guess I am at risk?! My dad had polyps and then cancer in his colon. They used radiation once but it came back. They could not operate because he needed to be on blood thinners and a high risk of stroke. He died, not from it but most likely because of it.

    Reply
  7. Mel Ham

     /  March 5, 2011

    colonoscopies are great. You get that deep cleansing effect, a delicious beverage and the best sleep that your insurance can pay for…on the back side..no pun intended you get the absolute best coca cola and nab you have ever tasted and sometimes a chance to milk the pitifulness to go eat at carrabas or olive garden you chose. The kids came in the recovery room during my virgin colonoscopy…I was loopy but they were doing the shoulder shirking giggling thing..the entire time..I was coming off of the milk of amensia..so I thought I’m game…funny..it’s all funny..later learning it was the ward of musical flatulence post treatment..it happens to everybody…good thing I don’t do that sort of thing..I never toot…it was my fellow colleague patients they were laughing at…I kid you not. This is well written Jessie…I continue to be impressed with your writing..and wit…Mel Ham

    Reply
    • Patty Thomson

       /  March 6, 2011

      all I can say Mel is that it is a good thiing you joined the family. you fit right in?!!! no wonder I love you with that sense of humor!!

      Reply
  8. Lucy

     /  March 6, 2011

    Great post!! My husband and I ended up both having colonoscopies in our 20s because of potential IBS issues. We’re extremely glad we had it done. Nothing to be scared of!

    Reply
  9. People joke about a colonoscopy like it is some kind of medieval torture, but actually, you sleep through the whole procedure. No big deal, and absolutely, nothing to avoid.

    Reply
  10. runnersdelight

     /  March 29, 2011

    My grandfather and his sister both lost the battle of colon cancer. Even though I’m only 27, when I started having very strange bowel habits, I hounded my doctor until I got an appointment to have a colonoscopy. I was given a clean bill of inner-butt-health (and have some really stellar pictures my father insisted upon keeping)but the procedure was worth the peace of mind.
    I don’t care that I’m young, eat reasonably well, and exercise (all which are thought to help fight against the big C in any form). Taking the chance of missing something that could possibly be treated isn’t for me.
    And trust me…the colonoscopy prep, while sort of a hoot and also extremely unpleasant, has to be better than the anxiety of not knowing. Plus, you feel really thin afterward.
    Thanks for posting this call to action, Jesse.

    Reply
    • Danny Tanner

       /  March 29, 2011

      I hadn’t thought about the thin part, but that’s a good point! A great cleansing.

      Reply

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