This is not a particularly glamorous topic, but I can’t let the month of March pass by without mentioning that it’s National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Why, then, am I choosing to post about it? That’s easy:
The two loons in this photo are my friends Beverly and Joy, with Beverly being the one on the left in the remarkably ugly sweater. When she learned how much the rest of us despised that sweater, Bev wore it every single time we got together–she had an ugly jumper-dress she wore for similar purposes in the warmer months– and always with a sly twinkle in her eyes. That should tell you a lot about her personality.
Beverly was only 52 years old when a visit to the doctor for what she thought were digestive problems revealed that she had colorectal cancer. In the ten months that followed, she went through two surgeries (including a colostomy), chemotherapy, and radiation, and then suffered a stroke as the result of a post-surgical infection. She died a month short of her 53rd birthday.
I’m sharing Bev’s story to honor her in her birth month and to urge you to talk to your doctor about the colorectal cancer screening test, especially if you are “of the age” (50+) or if you are at higher risk.
I had my first screening two years ago. There are several tests available, but because of my previously disastrous diet and sedentary lifestyle, and because both my mother and grandmother had experienced polyps in the past, my doctor opted for the colonoscopy. It wasn’t what I would call a “fun” experience at all, but it wasn’t all that awful either.
And it was well worth it. A couple of non-cancerous polyps were removed during the procedure, and while the vast majority of polyps never become cancerous, all it takes is one. I was glad I did it and equally glad to get a 10-year pass until the next one. (I advised the doctor that they’d better come up with a better way to do it by then, or I will not be happy.)
If Beverly had been screened, her cancer would likely have been prevented or caught in the earlier, more treatable, stage. We’ll never know, but we’ll never stop wishing for the possibility that earlier detection might have afforded.
I care about you and your health, so this is me begging: Please commit to talking with your doctor about colon cancer screening at the next opportunity. It could save your life and save your family and friends a whole lot of heartbreak.
See Terrence Howard’s moving video describing his family’s heartbreak HERE.