AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS WORTH A POUND OF CURE
I wish to use this blog opportunity to share with you some news that is deeply personal but shared because of a passion for a cause which I wish to take up with even greater commitment and zeal. First, the personal issue. Nine years ago one small polyp in my colon was discovered, removed, analyzed and determined to be non-cancerous during a routine colonoscopy procedure. I was told to come back in five years or when I was 64 years old for a second procedure. In the meantime, insurance reimbursement and conventional wisdom went to a ten year period between procedures if there were no warning signs or cancer concerns. In the intervening years I have been faithful to an annual physical examination with a wonderful primary care physician who has terrific diagnostic skills. This summer I inquired if I should have a second colonoscopy since nine years had passed. It was decided that indeed one was justifiable at this time not because of any warning signs or cancer concerns but because everyone my age should take care and precaution so as to avoid colorectal cancer. I had the procedure on Monday, July 6th and the result was slightly different from my first experience.
The procedure discovered a large polyp of approximately three centimeters (0ne inch) in length. The very skilled gastrointerlogist performing the procedure said to me after I woke up that he doubts if the polyp is cancerous but it must come out and only then after the whole mass is subjected to proper pathology tests could colorectal cancer be discounted. He took a biopsy of the outer portion of the polyp and as he suspected, it was not cancerous. I am hoping and praying for the same result when the entire mass is removed during the forthcoming surgery. I am optimistic, hopeful and will be happy when this chapter is closed in a few weeks. Surgery is scheduled for later this month. Beyond five to seven days in the hospital for the surgery, some additional time will be necessary for recovery. I will Thisbethis time to regain my strength. When at Mass you pray as you do “for our bishop Robert” ask the Lord to give me the strength and courage to deal with this situation. Your prayers have often sustained me in difficult times throughout these thirteen and a half years. That concludes the personal.
Now, the real reason, for telling you all of this. When one reaches the age of 50, please, please take advantage of whatever opportunity you have for colorectal screening. Although mine is likely not cancer, it might have been had this not been discovered in time. Colon cancer can usually be survived if discovered in time. As I write this, I stand a good chance of being one of the lucky ones. I want you with me in “the winner’s circle” so that we can continue our pilgrimage in faith which we have been sharing together. Too many people die of colorectal cancer who might have lived. Be not afraid. Be not ashamed. Ask your doctor if it is time for a colonoscopy procedure. I did and I thank God and my doctors. Join me in the fight against colon cancer. Pray that health care reform allows more people access to the screening process. The procedure itself is brief, totally painless, and eminently reliable. It saves lives. It may have saved mine. Allow it to save yours.