Tuesday, October 04, 2011

I don't have colon cancer

I had a little scare a week or so ago.

Now it's safe to say that it doesn't take much for me to have a little scare. When you've lost both parents (not to mention far too many friends and colleagues) to cancer, you tend to scare easy. Plus I work in a hospital where any and every freaky thing becomes suddenly and completely plausible: A head injury from hitting the rafters as you fall from the top of a barn? Steel rebar through the brain by way of the mouth as the result of a car accident? Second and third degree burns to the inner thighs, chest and face due to a fire in the cockpit of the plane that you were flying your mail-order bride around in?

All true, my friends. All true. (Sometime I'll have to tell you about Casey, the oppositional teenager who played Russion roulette and didn't exactly "win," if you know what I mean. Oh, Casey... you taught me a lot, buddy. Like how you shouldn't put a plastic spoon in the mouth of a boy with a tonic bite reflex, and how it's OK to tell my patients not to call me a bitch.)

Anyway, I've seen a lot. Nothing really shocks me anymore because anything, and everything, is totally possible. So when I started to have some concerning symptoms it was completely rational to conclude the inevitable:

I must have cancer.

But I don't! I don't have colon cancer! The good doctor checked it out yesterday with his very own eyes (and his very long endoscope) and even in my Versed-induced fog I heard him say it: Totally normal. Everything is fine.


I feel better today than I have in weeks. Maybe the celebratory doughnut(s)and the good night's sleep had something to do with it, but mostly I think it's the knowledge that I don't have colon cancer. It's not just an amazing relief, it's energizing. It makes me feel like everything is possible, maybe even if it isn't. More than possible, actually -- like I owe it to myself to try. Try what? Try everything.

As I was thinking about this today I started wondering if my reaction is disproportionate to the situation. After all, it's not like I've had questionable blood tests or inconclusive scans. No, I've just got a bad family history, one scary episode, and a catalogue of tragedies that belong to other people. So maybe my elation isn't justified? Or maybe it's just out of scale? I don't know. Would my relief/excitement/joy be greater if there was "real" cause for concern? Certainly. And what about if I'd actually had cancer and beat it? I can't imagine the jubilation.

Seriously, I can't imagine -- and fervently pray I never know.

Here's what I do know: Right now, today, I DON'T HAVE COLON CANCER. And that is super-fantastically amazing. Phenomenal. Blessedly wonderful. A cause for my most favorite prayer of all:


Amen, amen, and amen!!!

And as a little PSA, let me just say that if you are 50 or older, or have a history of colon cancer in your family, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to HAVE A COLONOSCOPY. Yes, the prep blows (literally and figuratively), but you won't be sorry. Early detection can save your life -- and your colon! Take care of yourself! Lots of people out there love you... and if you're actually reading this, I'm probably one of them.