Punch it, Hurb
Yo, I don’t think I should talk about this
Come on, why not?
People might misunderstand
What I’m tryin’ to say, you know?
No, but that’s a part of life
With apologies to Salt-N-Pepa for the appropriation and slight change in lyrics….
Just a short post today. About poop. Yep. About poop. If this is not to your liking, I will totally understand if you have to click away. Go ahead and ignore some sage advice. Instead go visit some vacuous entertainment website where I’m sure you will find out the stupid name that Kim and Kanye West named their new son. Spoiler alert: It rhymes with paint.
Perhaps many of you reading this DO talk about it or at least think about it. I know that I never did, which, as it turns out, was pretty stupid of me. While I had no symptoms that I was aware of, after speaking candidly to my surgeon, there is a possibility that I could have been aware of my cancer much sooner had I known some facts about poop.
First of all, let me start by writing that I have never been interested much in this particular subject. I’ve never had a real problem in this department other than the odd “vacation constipation”. Once I became a runner the only interest I had was just to make sure I had done my business before a run and, more importantly, before a race! I never looked at my poop, never had angst over my poop, never had interest in my poop. Turns out that was wrong of me. My surgeon told me that every single one of us should be looking at our number 2’s! You should be telling your kids about this as well. He told me about numerous cases of Crohn’s disease in children and teens that simply went undetected because the young person was too afraid or embarrassed to talk about it.
Early detection of colon cancer is paramount for an optimistic prognosis. Unfortunately, most people with colon cancer (like me) experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. When symptoms appear, they’ll likely vary, depending on the cancer’s size and location in your large intestine. At this point, there is a very good chance that the cancer has spread.
Signs and symptoms of colon cancer include:
- A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool
- Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
- Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
- A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
- Weakness or fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
I had none of those symptoms, as far as I know. Why do I write as far as I know? Because I never bothered looking. Considering my biological father died of colon cancer, I really should have been paying attention. Both my surgeon, and my oh so delightful and completely lovable GI, were surprised that I did not notice any stool consistency problems and my GI even opined that she could not BELIEVE that I had not noticed blood in my stool. Upon looking back and trying hard to remember, I am thinking that I did have a consistency problem, but I cannot write that with absolute conviction. Again, because I was ignorant and foolish for not at least taking three seconds and looking.
So, I am asking all you readers to take a moment and look. Doesn’t take long and while not pleasant and thrilling, it could save your life.
If there is one thing I have learned on this journey is that colon cancer can strike at any age. I have been told about a 31 year old man who had the EXACT cancer that I did and had a positive outcome, and a 51 year old single mother of a special needs child who was discovered to have advanced rectal cancer who had a dire outcome. Neither noticed any symptoms. Both cancers were only detected because of routine screening. Why did the 31 year old have a routine screening you might ask? (Because I certainly did). His brother, who was 36, noticed rectal bleeding and went to see his doctor. After a colonoscopy, a malignant sigmoid cancer was detected. At that point all siblings were advised to get screening immediately, regardless of age. This screening probably saved the younger brothers life.
So, be observant and be aware of what your normal bowel habits are. Tell your doctor if you have a persistent change in bowel habits. As well, if you have a first degree relative that has a history of colon cancer, you need to start screening at 40. If there is not family history, you need to start at 50. You also need to make sure you get them every five years. Don’t put it off! The worst part of getting a colonoscopy is the prep, and even that is tolerable because of new oral purgatives like Pico-Salax. With this product, you DON’T have to drink gallons and gallons of disgusting prep solution. In fact, it is the ONLY purgative that allows you to drink any recommended clear liquids at your own pace, to maintain hydration during the prep process.
There really is no reason at all to delay or be afraid of a colonoscopy. Quite frankly, you’ll have the BEST sleep and you will wake up swaddled in heated blankets.
If a polyp is found during your scope, it will be quickly and easily removed and sent off for a biopsy. If, in the unlikely event you are told you have a mass, at least you will know about it and you can get the surgery that you need to save your life. Now, go forth and get the scoop on your poop!
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