After having retired from full-time employment and having moved with my wife from Minnesota to South Carolina in 2013, I had my “regularly scheduled ten-year colonoscopy” early in January of 2015, which was eleven years after the previous one, postponed because of our move and related distractions. I was and am a healthy person in good physical shape in my early seventies with no physical complaints, so I had no expectation of bad news.
However, the procedure revealed a tumor at the origin of my ascending colon, occluding ninety-five percent of the lumen. My gastroenterologist ordered a CT scan, and I was referred to a colorectal surgeon, who saw me and operated the week following to remove the tumor with the appendix and all of my ascending colon and some of the transverse too. Surgery revealed some adenocarcinoma cells in a couple of nodes proximal to the tumor site so I was diagnosed as Stage 2/3, necessitating a twelve-treatment regimen of chemotherapy over a six-month period using a three-drug “cocktail.” Side effects, including neuropathy and taste/appetite problems and tiredness, were tolerable during the regimen period and have largely subsided since then.
As I consider my cancer experience three thoughts occur to me:
1) I am fortunate that although my cancer was discovered late in an advanced stage, I am alive and very well glad to tell about it;
2) early detection still is the most reliable and successful action to mitigate the effects of cancer in general and colon cancer in particular, so I owe it to everyone I encounter to continue publicizing early detection and cancer symptoms (at least two cases of ovarian cancer and one of colon cancer that I know of were discovered and successfully treated as a result); and
3) I owe it to all the other cancer survivors to do what I can to support them by increasing awareness and contributing to a cure, particularly in consideration those survivors with much worse recovery experiences than mine and/or much greater accomplishments in the publicizing and prevention of cancer (Sue Falco of Charlotte, a middle-aged wife and mother of two young daughters who recently succumbed to colorectal cancer, being an outstanding example of both).
My CEA level dropped from 50 at the beginning of the chemo regimen to 1.5 at the end (normal range being 1-5), the first of three four-month checkups with my oncologist was normal and the colonoscopy done during January of 2016 revealed no evidence of disease. I expect that a final CT scan scheduled for next August will confirm that assessment. In summary, I have had a successful course of treatment in spite of a dangerously late diagnosis with no debilitating after effects and a good prognosis.
I wish you all good health and happiness in your lives free from cancer; or your lives as cancer survivors while contributing with me to the welfare of our fellow cancer survivors and the work for a cure. These endeavors will help us to live peacefully and productively our lives by engaging in useful work for others, thus maximizing our own personal success and satisfaction.Return to Faces of Blue