It has been a well known fact that my siblings and I have bad genes. Our Grandma had Lymphoma in her early 50's, followed by our Grandpa with colorectal cancer in his late 70's- early 80's. Grandpa was followed two months later by mom's lung cancer in her 40's and then 8 months later by our dad's colon cancer at the age of 50. It goes without saying that we need to be proactive with our body. We need to find a balance between being a hypocondriac and being naive.
In November of 2008, 4 months before her 32nd birthday, Angie had her first colonoscopy. She said some of the doctors were asking her why she got checked so young. She referred them to her family history on the piece of paper in front of them. Angie had no polyps and nothing that concerned the doctors. She encouraged me to get checked as well. It took me a while, but this past September I made my appointment after I kept experiencing digestive issues. My results were fine, showing only three little ulcer-like spots caused most likely by stress. I passed my test.
Last week Angie called me out of the blue and asked if I could be her driver for her colonoscopy on March 12th. I said yes, of course, but I wondered why she was going back in for a scan when she had just completed one 15 months before and there were no signs of problems. She told me that she listens. Not only to her own body, but also to the doctors when she takes my dad in for his check-ups. They ask if he has experienced a change in bowel movements, change in frequency, or blood in his stool. They ask the same three questions every time. Angie informed me that she had asked herself the same three questions the past few weeks and contines to answer yes to two of the three.
So, yesterday, I took Angie to the hospital assuming they would check her out and tell her that she is all clear and just experiencing a large amount of stress. Unfortunately, it wasn't that easy. After she came into the recovery room they came and got me. She was clearly experiencing discomfort and she was very comical in her medicated state. They had to give her more narcotics than normal because they were having a hard time getting around parts of her colon. They found a polyp that they kept discribing as "alarmingly large" considering she had just been checked 15 months before. They removed it and sent it to the lab. He said it looked normal as far as he could tell, but lab results will come back next week.
He continued to express concern about how quickly it grew. Most people start their colonoscopies at the age of 50 and come back every 10 years, but Angie began them at 31 and will now get them every 24 months or so. He told us there was no doubt this would have been cancer had she waited to get checked. Those are difficult words to hear. As if this news wasn't discouraging enough, I took her home and then she started to bleed when she went to the bathroom. I had to take her back to the hospital so the surgeon could decide if they needed to go back in and look at the spot they had biopsied. After a few hour at the hospital the second time, Angie was released and told to rest and watch for anything unusual.
Needless to say, Yesterday was a long day. I spent the night at Angie's house and she looked fine the rest of the evening. She wasn't in any pain and she hasn't experienced any more bleeding. Physically, everyone is back to normal, but mentally, knowing how things could have been is a tough pill to swallow. I'm really proud of Angie for being so proactive with her health and it is a reminder to me that I need to be just as proactive. I know that I probably would have just assumed it was stress and blown it off since I had just been checked. If you're one of those people with a less than favorable genetic makeup, you need to make sure you are getting your annual physical and bloodwork. Don't assume you are invincible, regardless of your age or how recently you were checked.
Hoping for good results-