This may take you out of your comfort zone just a little…but…what the heck.

Fear of Colonoscopy

Imagine if you will. You are 58 years young and on your death bed. You are one of the unlucky 50,000 people who will die this year of colon cancer. As you lie there, you are tormented by the constant reruns playing in your mind’s eye of your life slowly slipping away.

All you can see are the wonderful things you used to take for granted…your beautiful spouse…your wonderful family…your close friends…your unfinished projects. You anguish over all the living you’ll be missing out on…such as your daughter’s upcoming wedding…being a part of your grandchildren’s lives…the family vacations you’ll never again take… the sounds of laughter…the simple conversations at the dinner table…the scent of an April shower…the fresh feeling of a new day…all the things you should of, would of, and could of.

With a tear in your eye, you pray to God for a miracle.

Now…rewind your imagination to the here and now and seriously consider this question.

What would it be worth to you not to lose 20 years of your life to colon cancer?

Would you be willing to fast for 24 hours, while having stomach cramps for two to three of those hours? Then, would you be willing to be put to sleep for 20 minutes while having a doctor check you for cancer? Well…that’s it! I ask you again…..would it be worth it?

Oh, I just realized there’s one more hurdle I forgot to mention. FEAR! A fear that’s a little different from your others…this one could literally scare you to death.

Let me cut to the chase.

I’ve had three family members recently die from colon cancer. The sad truth is, with today’s technology, I honestly believe all three could be alive and enjoying life today. All of them were over 60 when first diagnosed, and not one of them had ever been scoped for colon cancer…even though the national guidelines begin at age 50. I’m not certain if it was fear or the lack of information which kept them from doing so…therefore, I’ll address them both.

I hate being this blunt…especially when it hits so close to home. The truth hurts like hell…but the truth is the best weapon I have to maybe get your attention. And if somehow it aids in neutralizing some of your fears and puts you into action…I’ll exploit it all day long.

According to the American Cancer Society, colon cancer kills nearly 50,000 people in the United States every single year…while, in the same time frame, nearly 150,000 new cases are diagnosed. It’s the second most deadly cancer out there…next to lung cancer…which is also preventable. But that’s another topic for another day.

The true tragedy is, we now have a way of preventing most colon cancer, but thousands of us every year, for one reason or another, choose to ignore it. Did you get that…I said…CHOOSE TO IGNORE IT! If this shoe fits…please, reread the first two paragraphs.

Dadswisdoms, Colonoscopy

Although colon cancer usually targets the 50 and older crowd, I ask my younger readers to hang in there and hear me out. It’s vitally important, because you may be the only one with enough influence and knowledge, after reading this piece, to maybe talk some sense into your parents. I don’t want to be too dramatic…but you could literally save their lives. It’s your job to make it happen.

The facts:

Colon cancer begins as slow growing benign polyps, usually in those 50 years of age and older…maybe younger if there is a family history. The beauty is, in these early stages, they can easily be detected and removed before they become deadly…thereby, preventing colon cancer. This all can be accomplished with one relatively easy procedure called a colonoscopy…which, by the way, is done while you are asleep and completely unaware.

For some reason, just the word colonoscopy strikes fear in many…especially in us guys. At one time, I was among the many…but not anymore. After having my second one just last week, I can honestly say…it was a piece of cake. But I’ve got to tell you…I still hate that word…colonoscopy.

The fool who came up with that word should be beaten to death with the tool they use for the procedure. Why don’t they call it an adding20yearstoyourlifeoscopy? This would be much easier to sell…don’t you think?

A quick word on fear…it feeds on ignorance and inaction. Luckily, it loses its sting in the light of information… valid information, that is. And it’s rendered even more useless, when this valid information is coming from one who was eaten up with fear before experiencing his first screening. Again, I just had it done last week, so what I’m about to tell you is very much up-to-date.

• Step one: This is the hardest part…but it’s really not that bad. The day before the procedure, you have to fast and drink a laxative solution, which cleans out your colon so the doctor can see what he or she needs to see. For those like me, who have a weak stomach, there are pills, which can be used instead, called OsmoPrep. OsmoPrep is taken with clear Gatorade and works just as well…if not better, and I highly recommend it. Tell your doctor you know about the pills and he or she will prescribe them.

• Step two: The colonoscopy itself. This is what scares most men into quite frankly…not having it done. They just can’t get past the thought of it. Listen up…I’m going to give the straight truth here, and I won’t pull any punches. When you arrive at the hospital as an outpatient, you are given an IV in your arm…this is where the sedative will be administered seconds before the procedure. When its show time, you are rolled into the room where the procedure will take place and then asked to lie on your left side. They then inject the sedative through the aforementioned IV. Five seconds later you’re out like a light. The next thing you know…you wake up and it’s over. That’s it…you’re done.

• Step three: You get back to your life…period, amen.
Listen…we all know we’re not going to live forever…at least not in this body. But there’s no reason why we can’t milk this wonderful life for all it’s worth. And if that means having a colonoscopy every 10 years or so after age 50…then bring it on.

If every cancer had a screening technique as reliable and successful as a colonoscopy, cancer would almost be a nonfactor for most of us.

If you’re 50 years of age or older, or have a blood relative who has had colon polyps or colon cancer, talk to your doctor and get one scheduled. Don’t put it off…do it now. You don’t want to be tormented with those reruns. If your parents or anyone you love fits this bill…stay on them until they give in.

Don’t assume everyone is aware of the facts. Show a little moxie and spread the word…even if it takes getting out of your comfort zone a little to do so.

As always, I’d love to have your thoughts.  You can do so by leaving a comment below.

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4 Responses

  1. Liz
    Liz November 3, 2015 at 4:13 am | | Reply

    I’m 38 years old and due to the fact that my dad had a bout with colon cancer at the age of 51 I am actually going in to have it done today. Doctor’s orders. I felt a little young to be doing this but I have kids and honestly, the family doctor has been pushing me to do this since I am 35 years old. Go figure. I think the stats on colonoscopies are shifting a bit and people (such as myself) with a history, it seems more doctors are sending them for this procedure earlier. Loved your post. Thank you for this.

  2. Liz
    Liz November 5, 2015 at 7:08 am | | Reply

    Bill – just like you said, the procedure was great! I woke up and the whole thing was over, I couldn’t believe it. The male nurse who had prepped me going in chastised me for getting up too quickly from the gurney I was lying on ‘after the fact’. Apparently you are supposed to lay there for a bit in order to make sure you don’t faint or collapse. I told him that after 4 childbirths (one of them having been completely natural), I feel like I had had a day at the spa and was feeling fine. In that case, he said, I’ll let this one go. It was a *great* experience (no joke). I was a little concerned beforehand as I wasn’t sure I was entirely, er, “cleaned out” as need be. I thought I was supposed to be producing a clear water-colored liquid, but apparently the dark lemonade color was just fine (sorry if too much info). Thank God I got a clean bill of health and am due back in 5 years. I highly recommend this procedure. For those of you who are still scared, you will laugh at yourself afterwards for having been so nervous. The prep is the hard part and I won’t lie, I was ravenous so we ran to a pasta joint afterwards (hubs and me) and I devoured a plateful of it with little to no conversation on my part. It is very important to follow that diet they give you like two days in advance of the procedure. You don’t want to feel all disappointed afterwards by not being “cleaned out” properly as need be.

    As for dad, unfortunately, he passed away in 2001. He lived until the age of 73 and died of a heart episode. It was quite sudden and he went quite peacefully (if that’s even possible in such a case). My brother still feels that happened due to the fact that dad was not great about taking care of his teeth and had a fear of dentists. Some claim poor dental health can have a direct correlation with heart health. Who knows though. The colon issue never came back to haunt him during the next 20 years after having had a bout with it.

    Again, thank you, Bill, for this post and am enjoying your blog thus far. Glad I found it. Thanks!

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