Truthfully, that Dave Barry piece gets a lot of laugh mileage but it does a serious disservice to the people who are made fearful by it, avoid the procedure and later develop colon cancer as a result. Take it from me, colo-rectal cancer doesn't give too many clear warning symptoms early on and by the time you could even begin to think something is wrong, it could be too late. After the age of 50 or so, colonoscopies every 3 years are the only defense you have against it. Yeah, the liters of nauseating liquid and the evacuating beforehand is a trial, but now they prescribe Citra fleet which is just two 8 ounce glasses of something no more unpleasant tasting than gatorade.
Anyway, even with the repulsive purgative that's just one day of relative discomfort which is nothing compared to the pain, unpleasant side effects and disruption caused by 7 weeks of radiation and chemical warfare on your digestive and reproductive organs, followed by months of recuperation afterwards. You think having to stay close to a toilet for one day is a drag, try having to do it for 6 months or more. Plus the painkillers they give you fock you up, but without ever really fully killing the pain.
I'm serious about this so though I've never wanted to talk about it on SOTW before, I feel compelled to do so if it will help save even one other life. Get a colonoscopy every 3 years once you are past 50 because they will catch the precancerous polyps before they get a chance to develop further and will catch any fast-growing or aggressive tumors before it is really too late. Don't wait the 5 years the medical establishment talks about because that is an insurance decision to save money and definitely once past 60 it is way too long to be safe. This is a fact: I would be saying my goodbyes right now if I had waited 5 years like they advise and hadn't gotten what I thought was going to be another routine clean colonoscopy. That was two years ago next month, and although just 3.5 years after the previous totally clean test, they found a big fat stage T2 Ni (IIIA) tumor anyway.
The treatment is no fun for sure, but considering the alternative I consider myself very fortunate as well as thankful to have had it to go through because it appears to have saved me (knock on wood). I am very greatful because didn't need surgery or a colostomy, unlike a colleague who had to have a temporary colostemy and almost died from perotinitis contracted during the operation to rejoin the sections. So believe me, it's better to have them push a tube up your colon to look around than have them surgically removing it because they didn't. Or to be like a few other people I knew who were diagnosed too late to be saved because they never had regular colonoscopies.
At the beginning of the ordeal--the diagnosis, the waiting for treatment to begin, the pains of the treatment, the fear, doubt and hope--I questioned over and over what I had done to deserve such ill fortune. But afterwards, when it started looking like the tumor was vanquished (knock on wood), I suddenly found myself questioning what I had done to deserve such seeming good fortune. I will never stop wondering what made me the one to survive while so many others suffer through treatment and die anyway.
I still don't know the answer to that, other than that like much of life it often seems to be just a crap shoot prone to the totally arbitrary vagaries of pure chance and good or bad luck. Perhaps we can't control that very much, but we certainly can load the dice in our favor by making it a point to have all the proven-successful diagnostic tests, such as colonoscopy, that we can.
Thanks for reading this. Now go do yourselves a favor, get a colonoscopy and save your lives.