Colonoscopy — avoid colon cancer — please

Published 10:17 am Monday, August 6, 2018


I had my fourth colonoscopy recently. The best part of the procedure is when it’s over. Honestly, it’s not that big of a deal but it’s always easier to say that when it’s over!
When I was in my gown five minutes before the test I thought about the inconvenience of the colonoscopy but then quickly remembered the inconvenience of colon cancer.
My father was 60 when he was told that the large mass inside his colon was cancer.
Under the instruction of our family doctor, Bob Hall in Paintsville, Ky., he underwent surgery to remove a large section of his colon that also resulted in a colostomy in the right side of his stomach. He would wear a bag on his side for three months. I vividly remember the pain and sickness of that surgery in 1980. Three months later the doctor did another extensive surgery and reconnected his colon. Seemed to me he was sicker after that surgery than the one before. Eventually he regained normalcy once again, never had radiation or chemotherapy and lived 25 more years. He was one of the lucky ones. He had one really bad sick year but he lived.
My mother-in-law had colon cancer and had most of her colon removed in her forties. She spent the rest of her life with a stoma. A stoma is where a section of the bowel is brought out through the stomach area. However, she didn’t wear a pouch but irrigated her colon every other day. It was one awful surgery but she lived forty more plus very active years of life.
A high school friend not long ago went to the doctor and found out he had stage four colon cancer. He couldn’t beat it and died recently. A dear minister friend at the peak of his ministry in his early fifties found out he had colon cancer. He fought it hard but it didn’t take long and he soon died.
Something will take us all out. We are all going to die. My dad used to say; “None of us will get out of this world alive.” This is a true statement. However, a colonoscopy is not that big of a deal. The routine procedure, two hours at the hospital, might prevent you from having your colon cut out. Now, that would be good, right? Or, maybe it might prevent you from dying in your sixties or even fifties or late forties. It happens a lot.
I had my first colonoscopy at the age of fifty and they cut out three polyps. If I had never had that procedure done I would probably be dead by now from colon cancer. I had another one three years later. Another one five years after that and came out with four large polyps and one looked very precancerous. Thus, recently three years after the last one I had my fourth and for the first time ever the doctor told me I had no polyps in my colon. Hallelujah! I was so glad. I’ve been eating daily fruits and vegetables. Going for the broccoli, the asparagus, fruit, peppers, etc. I’m convinced fruit and vegetables are the ticket. I would recommend you make fruits and vegetables a part of your daily life. If you remember, they told us this stuff in health class in elementary school. It’s true.
The day before your procedure you will have to drink some nasty tasting stuff. At least I did. I was allowed to eat a little bit as late as 4:00 in the afternoon. Very little but I didn’t starve by any means. Two o’clock in the morning I was drinking more nasty stuff. Plus I drank about a gallon of water to flush the nasty tasting stuff down. From about 2:00 in the morning until 4:30 I was in the bathroom almost constantly. At 6:30 I was at the outpatient center of the hospital. The people were great and explained everything. By 7:45 I was receiving propofol (Michael Jackson drug), which puts you to sleep almost instantly. By 8:45 I was leaving the hospital with my good news of no polyps. My wife had to drive. You must have a driver with you. By 9:30 I was having a Greek omelet and four large pancakes. I felt like I had earned every bite.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in America. Over 50,000 people die from colon cancer every year. Let’s all get routine colonoscopies and at least try to avoid dying from colon cancer. Good luck!
(Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of 12 books. His syndicated column is read in all 50 states.)

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