Help increase awareness and screening of colon cancer.


Faces of Blue: Barbara Waters

Faces of Blue: Barbara Walters

I am a survivor of stage I colorectal cancer. When I was 50 I started asking my then primary doctor about having a colonoscopy. That first year and every year after I was told that I did not need to have one because I was not having any symptoms. I finally called my insurance company and was told I did not need a referral. So, at 55, I had my first colonoscopy. He said there were three polyps and he did not see anything that worried him and he would have the test results on Tuesday morning.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 at 8:55 a.m. my cell phone rings. Damn Caller ID!Faces of Blue: Barbara Walters

Let the whirlwind begin!

“Hi Barbara, I have your test results. The two small polyps in the upper and lower tract were fine. The larger one did show cancer. I was very surprised.”

I thought he was going to cry when he said that. “What do I need to do now?” Head buzzing. Did I ask that?

“You will need to have a full body scan to make sure it has not spread. You will need a flex sig to tattoo the spot for the surgeon.”

“Tattoo? Surgery?”

“It will need to come out. We will get everything scheduled and call you.”

Faces of Blue: Barbara WaltersNervously, I asked him, “remember last week I told you I hate baseline tests?”

I called my husband, Sandy. I calmly told him “I have colon cancer.” I really do not remember much of the rest. He was there within minutes and we left.

The phone rang soon after we got home. I was set up for my tattoo on Thursday, CAT scan at 1 p.m., so no eating or drinking after 11 a.m. I couldn’t even remember if I had eaten anything all day.

I met with my surgeon, he talked about laparoscopic. We talked about my previous surgeries so we knew there was a chance that may not be an option. When waiting for the surgery I was afraid of the unknown. I knew I would be in pain, but either way I would be on my way to recovery. After the surgery I was told the cancer was gFaces of Blue: Barbara Waltersone.

For a long time I felt like my cancer was not a big deal compared to others. I didn’t have chemo or radiation. However, now I know my cancer was a big deal! It had a great effect on myself, my husband, daughters, and their families. It was a big deal and I’m very blessed.

When I went into surgery I had three grandsons and a granddaughter. Two granddaughters were born the following year and two grandsons who are now three and four years old. I am looking forward to watching them all grow.

My advice? Be your own advocate. If I had waited for my doctor to say yes where would I be now? I don’t want to even think about it. Get screened.

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