Posts tagged ‘colonoscopy’

New Leaves in My Medical World

I’m happy to report that my colonoscopy on Friday showed that all was well in my rear. No signs of polyps, no signs of complications – it was as pretty as a colon could be. And lucky for you, in just a short time, you’ll be able to see it. In an effort to save lives and show people that getting a colonoscopy isn’t all that bad, I had my friend film my colonoscopy process from start to finish. I turned over a new leaf, and added a new notch to my “colonoscopy veteran” belt.  It’s been great to watch Katie Couric and Dr. Oz go on TV and do the same thing, but I wanted to give everyone in Kansas City a very local look at what a colonoscopy is like. So – we taped my scope. And my prep. (Well not the actual prep, but what I took and how it works.) And soon, you’ll be able to see it. It’s in post”erior”- production right now. HAHA. Oh man I’m funny.

Another fun new leaf that’s been turned for me over the past two weeks is (what I feel) a unique understanding of my doctors. Or at least they’re just now starting to communicate in a new way. In the past, if I entered the office with anxiety or fear, they’d try to tell me I had nothing to worry about. And I did appreciate that since the whole cancer thing is sort of big and scary. But the past two visits I’ve had this month, both of my doctors have made mention that they understand how I feel – or that at least they can see that I enter their office with anxiety and occasional fear. Although they are still confident that I shouldn’t really have anything to worry about, at least they do see that from my perspective, it is unsettling to face scan after scan, scope after scope, never knowing how they will turn out. It’s a constant struggle to find faith and peace in the midst of routine follow-ups. So it’s been really nice to have their understanding. Makes me realize even more that I’ve got a great team of physicians who don’t only care about my charts, but care about me as a person.

August 30, 2011 at 9:58 am 1 comment

A Polypy Family

Last fall, our family tree had a bit of growth.

I’m not talking about more babies or marriages (although that did happen), but genetically speaking, we had some movement in the genetic family tree.

You see, for about 10 years now, I’ve been the odd ball out when it comes to this colon cancer stuff. I’ve had a great-aunt who was known for polyps and a few great-grandparents who supposedly had colon cancer, but nothing that really gave any doctors insight that my colon cancer diagnosis was a family thing. I’ve had to answer “no” every time I’ve been asked if there’s a family history of the disease. And while that’s still the case, things got a little more interesting a few months ago.

My Cousin Eric

Meet Eric

This handsome stud (sorry gals, he’s got a gorgeous wife) is my cousin Eric. He’s lives in Nebraska and texted me out of nowhere several months ago asking me about blood in the stool. I immediately was concerned, as that was my main symptom of colon cancer.

Genetic testing I underwent a few years ago indicated that my mutated gene (commonly found in Lynch Syndrome)  is most likely traveling through my dad’s side of the family. So, when Eric texted me (cousin on my dad’s side), I IMMEDIATELY told him to get a colonoscopy. Good thing his doctor was already headed there, or I would have driven up to Nebraska myself to make sure he got tested.

Colonoscopies Save Lives

Eric’s colonoscopy found that he had polyps growing in his large intestine. This young, twenty-something hunk (sorry again – he’s married, and actually has a baby on the way) indeed had pre-cancerous growths in his colon. Thankfully, they did a colonoscopy right away given his family history (sorry dude) and symptoms, and were able to remove the polyps safely. Now, Eric knows he’s at high risk for colon cancer and can get screened often to prevent an occurance.

Polypy Cousins

A Polypy Family

Don’t get me wrong, while this might seem like I’m excited, I’m bummed that Eric has to deal with this too – yet so relieved that he caught it early. There’s a suspension that a weird variation of Lynch Syndrome is running through our family, thus the importance of everyone getting screened. (That’s right you Ripleys who are reading this – get your rears CHECKED OUT NOW.)

If you are like our family and have someone who’s been diagnosed with colon cancer — and especially someone diagnosed with colon cancer UNDER AGE 50 — get yourself into a gastroenterologist and get your colon checked NOW.

It’s nothing to play around with.

April 15, 2011 at 4:17 pm 2 comments

Welcoming Dr. Oz to the Colon Cancer Cause

It feels good to have one of the most reputable doctors (granted, he’s on TV) talking about your cause.
He’s putting Katie Couric to the test for sure.

This week, Dr. Oz opened up his show’s season premiere by giving a very personal look at his colonoscopy.
He went in for a routine scan since he turned 50 over the summer, and came out shocked and stunned.
His first-ever colonoscopy found a pre-cancerous polyp that had it not been removed, would have turned to cancer.
Thanks to my mom for mentioning the show to me, I had no idea.

I found the episode to be quite emotional, as did Dr. Oz.
The look on his face showed that he was totally surprised by the results – something I can definitely relate with.
Nobody thinks (especially those who are generally healthy) that they will get colon cancer.
It especially tugged at me when he realized what it meant for his kids. He knew it was a game changer.
When your path report comes back and says your body had started to turn that way, it’s unsettling.
I’m so thankful that he caught it early and avoided even a stage 1 diagnosis.

I didn’t think I could get colon cancer it at age 17, and then again at 25.
A host of my good friends never expected the diagnosis in their 20s, 30s and 40s either.
Nobody thinks that their body is growing polyps, and especially the pre-cancerous kind.
And especially the perfectly healthy Dr. Oz.
But as he showed the world, pre-cancerous polyps and colon cancer CAN (and does) happen to anyone.

If anyone saw the episode – don’t freak out. I don’t know why these people on TV stay awake for their colonoscopies.
I’ve never been awake during one, and I’m always sedated and have a nice sleep.
The gallon prep they showed is also something of my former days – the prep I do is much easier.
But the multiple bathroom trips, bloating and lovely hospital gown are all the same. Sorry about that.

Colon cancer is no joke.
I know that people can get tired of hearing about it and ignore the scans due to the prep, but it’s time to stop waiting.
A colonoscopy saved Dr. Oz’s life, it saved my life, and it will save many more.
Colonoscopies are must-haves for everyone, just as mammograms are for women. There’s not really a way around it.

So – if you’re over 50 and have not have a scan yet, call and get one set up today.
If you’re not over 50, but you have a family history of the disease (AHEM all of my aunts, uncles and cousins), get screened earlier and don’t mess around if you have ANY symptoms of the disease.
If you’re African American, you need to be screened closer to age 40-45.
And if you have any unusual gas, bloating, bleeding, weight gain/loss, or any other strange stool issues, please get it checked now.

September 9, 2010 at 11:39 pm Leave a comment

Good Colonoscopy Report!

Just wanted to make a quick post and happily report that my colonoscopy yesterday went awesome! Yep, the words colonoscopy and awesome were just used in the same sentence – twice now.

There have been several hurdles that come from having a semicolon, but having a colonoscopy is not one of them. This time, the prep and clean out were pretty easy, especially since I’ve not got much to clean out these days! The day of fasting went well, I found several new updates for my Colonoscopy Survival Kit, and I had a decent evening.
The morning of the test was a little nerve-wracking, as I tried to calm my fears that Dr. T would find some sort of polyp or sign that cancer is trying to crawl back – but he found none! I even had an upper scope performed to give me a baseline scan since I’m a highly suspicious to have Lynch Syndrome, and even that was clear. Everything looked great. And to top it off, Midwest GI has switched their sedation medications to make it a better experience for patients, so I remember talking to the doctor, going to Starbucks afterwards, and even watching a movie once I got home. No more zombie fogginess embarrassment stories.

So yes, that’s my small update about my personal health. Praise the Lord I am IN THE CLEAR.

July 31, 2010 at 10:45 pm 2 comments

Colonoscopy Survival Kit – Updated

Today I had the privilege of  enduring yet another colonoscopy!  Privileged not because of the procedure, but because I actually still have *some* remaining colon to check out. As I prepped yesterday, my Colonoscopy Survival Kit came to mind. And while I followed some of my own recommendations, I stumbled upon a few extra tips. Here are few additions to my previously mentioned Colonoscopy Survival Kit:

  • Coffee. I know – some people probably think I am crazy, but I’ve never had coffee the day before my test. I’m not a HUGE coffee drinker, but yesterday I started sucking down the joe and it was fantastic. Helped curve my hunger almost all of the day.
  • White Grape Juice Slushies – another fantastic clear drink. I’m a big grape juice fan, so this white version made my day. My husband finely chopped some ice in a large cup, and I poured grape juice over it. Just like a Sonic slushy, except less sugary, definitely colonoscopy-prep safe, and (besides for buying the juice) FREE.
  • DVR (or Tivo) – Nothing like having a long TV show, or movie, to help entertain you the night you clean out. But what’s even better than good entertainment is the ability to pause live TV throughout the evening. Life. Saver.

July 30, 2010 at 6:47 pm 1 comment

Blog Sabbatacal

Sorry to my faithful blog readers. I’ve been on blog-sabbatacal. Taking some time to soak in life and all things summer. But don’t you worry, I’ve got many blog posts planned for the future. I mean I can’t not talk about things like…

  • This new “butt station” desk toy that my hubby bought me
  • Mooning fish in one of my first experiences at the lake
  • My experience with a blocked small bowel at a family reunion last weekend
  • Introducing a new co-worker to our IBS/constipation talk during lunch
  • My garden… and then my pile of dirt
  • New recipes with fresh foods
  • And my …. colonoscopy …. THIS FRIDAY!

Yep, much to divulge so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy this picture.

Now THAT'S what you call good friends

I ran across this lovely toilet setting at a cute little cafe in Carbondale, IL. This was what the womens’ bathroom was like. And guys always wonder why girls go to the bathroom together. It’s so you don’t miss out on the opportunity to pee right next to your pal.

July 28, 2010 at 9:26 pm Leave a comment

Feedback

Hi….you spurred me on to have a colonoscopy this past Monday…..

That’s how an awesome email I received a few days ago began from one of my faithful blog readers. Receiving feedback like this makes the risk of putting out my life stories on this crazy blog all the more worthwhile.

Here’s the thing about SemiColon Stories … it’s been tagged as a “humorous” blog as of late. That cracks me up in itself. You see, when I set out on my blogging ship last fall, I didn’t really have any intentions of trying to be funny. I just thought I’d work on my writing skills and use a subject I have lots of material to write about. I’d share things about my life to help tell everyone else about colon cancer while becoming a better writer.

Well, what’s fun to me is that my little writing project has turned into something so much more. I don’t write the short, memoir-esque stories I had planned on and instead give snippets about daily life and what’s on my mind … or coming out of my rear. And in the meantime, people have found it insightful, interesting, (maybe gross), humorous, and even motivating. It’s gotten people talking about all things colon, which is awesome, and others are taking steps toward improving their colon health – or at least eating better foods.

So here’s to everyone who’s been affected by SemiColon Stories thus far. If it’s provided you a good laugh, that’s awesome and I hope you keep enjoying my crazy colon stories. If it’s made you buy one organic item at the store, you go! If it’s given you a deeper understanding about surviving cancer in general, I hope you spread awareness for us (or at least have patience when we can’t remember anything or have an occasional identity crises.) And last, if it’s actually spurred you on to look twice at your poo, encourage a friend to do the same, or even get a colonoscopy – you rock my face off and keep it going!

June 27, 2010 at 10:46 pm Leave a comment

#colondarreunion

If you would have told me that in my lifetime I would join a group of people that come from all over the country, of varying ages, with different family backgrounds, opposing political views, contrasting views on religion, and even very different ethnicity, life experiences and definitions of “fun,”  – and then told me that after spending a weekend with this group I’d be mildly-depressed after heading home and separating from these people, I might have not believed you.

But that indeed is what’s happened.

Modeling for the 2009 Colondar was an experience that changed my life. At the risk of sounding too cliche and cheesy, it really, really did. But the amazing thing is that I didn’t even realize it at the time. I walked into the home of the McMaster’s in May 0f 2008 as a 7-year cancer survivor. Sure, I’d been diagnosed when I was 17 and had a crazy story to tell, but I was kind of “over it.” I was excited at the opportunity to participate in the calendar, but strived all week to relate to the other 11 people who were sharing their stories of surgeries, treatments, post-treatment, emotional issues, family issues and the other myriad of problems that come with colon cancer. I could relate, but only to a point. I had been diagnosed so young and was so far removed from it. I took it all in that weekend and went home a little shell-shocked. It’s like a door that had been closed was suddenly reopened, and I was faced with thinking about my cancer once again.

I wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad thing until in Dec. of 08 when a routine colonoscopy found those little annoying polyps growing once again. You know the story… surgery, second diagnosis, genetic testing…. the past year of my life. While it’s been no cake walk to walk through cancer once again, this experience has been different this time thanks to my experience with the Colondar, and my several little “colon angels” who’ve helped me through this process.

Jon, Mr. February, was there from the start and has been my coach through it all. He also has had the same procedure I had and lives with an “itty bitty” colon. He helped me before, during and after surgery, and still keeps tabs on me to this day, encouraging me that what I still face a year later is normal. Trish, Miss March and Karen, Miss December, have been two pillars of inspiration as they too faced another diagnosis of cancer since we met in 2008, both of breast cancer. To see them gracefully battle and make it through another cancer (and still find times to laugh!) has also given me the strength to keep going. Libby, Miss January, has been my best buddy through this all and such a dear friend. She’s my roommate and my girlfriend who’s in my same age range, and been such a blessing to have as we figure out how to live as 20-something colon cancer survivors. And Erika, the yearly cover girl, means so much to me I can’t even explain. We were diagnosed only a few months from each other, her at age 22 and me at age 17, in 2001. We’re two people who really “know” what it was, and is, like for one another and strangely enough continue to be in sync with the different seasons and issues of cancer we face. And these are only a few of them. I’m daily inspired by my other ’09 buds: new-mom Allison, Doug, Jaimie (the guy lives with a J-pouch!) Greg & Todd (stage 4 survivors!), Shaye and Terri – they are all so near and dear to me.

The Colondar network has been a life-saver and a game-changer for me. That’s why this past weekend when the first-ever Colondar Models Reunion was planned, I knew I had to go no matter the time, location nor sacrifice. And I am so thankful I did. I met up with several old friends, and made many new ones as I was introduced to Karen from ’06, Dean from ’07, Becca from’08 and Evelyn from ’10. I spent time in Vermont all week with the former models, and then traveled to Lake George in upstate New York once again to meet up with the Colon Club crew that was working the shoot, as well as the new host of 2011 models.

I had an absolutely amazing and incredible time. Taking in the beauty of Vermont while spending time among people who really “get it” when it comes to life as a colon cancer survivor was exactly what I’ve needed to help heal my heart and fight the emotional battle with cancer. It helped me realize how much of my day-to-day still revolves around the fact that I had colon cancer, and that while I might feel alone at home, I’m not alone completely in it in the world. It helped me take a much-needed step toward addressing the repressed feelings I’ve had about this second diagnosis and begin to work through them. It made me want to keep fighting off some of the negative pressures cancer puts on me, and gave me a support network of people who can relate and work through this with me. It brought out sadness and sorrow at our situation, yet hope and joy that we’d made it and that we’re together. It motivated me to keep going.

I’ve used many words to explain the significance of our group and the impact this past weekend had on my life. And while I could keep going on and on, I’ll let the pictures explain the rest. Thank you to all of my Colondar family for an unforgettable experience, and I cannot wait to see you all again…

June 15, 2010 at 11:06 pm 1 comment

Reasons #20 & #21 You Never Want Colon Cancer

Today’s two reasons are just cancer-specific. But hopefully they help give a small glimpse into the life of a survivor. No cancer is fun, and colon cancer tops that list (in my opinion.) And while I have learned to live with it and found many blessings that have come from it — it’s still not a disease I would wish upon anyone. As a mid-month message that will be repeated over and over — colon cancer is one of THE MOST preventable, treatable and beatable cancers out there. I’ll be the first in line to coach you through it if it indeed comes your way, but beg you to do whatever you can NOW to not see that day, especially if you’re over 50 and need a colonoscopy, or have a family history. Get your colons checked people!

Reason #20
Survivor’s Guilt

I’ve mentioned this before, but sometimes being a survivor is hard for reasons other than the obvious physical ones. As you watch and hear of others facing the disease and then losing their battles, unfortunate and inevitable guilt often hits. Not that you could have changed your course or theirs, but it’s definitely something to keep working through.

Reason #21
You’ll have the urge to start planning your funeral. (And all of the strange looks that follow when you start making requests.)

Not to be morbid or anything, but I often think about lining things up for my funeral, ya know, just in case. I know that it’s not guaranteed that I will go before anyone around me. But living through a major life-threatening disease (twice now) does open up your eyes to the reality that you won’t live forever. I’ve got a few songs that I’d like to be sung, and an idea of where I’d like proceeds to go. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to think of these things, but it does seem a little early for a 26-year-old to start making these plans.

March 21, 2010 at 10:32 pm Leave a comment

Reasons #8-11 You Never Want Colon Cancer

Oh blog readers, I am back. Sorry, crazy week. In light of the craziness, I have been reminded of some of the intricacies of being a colon cancer survivor. Here are a few that have impacted this week:

Reason #8
Everyone prefers to “use their own barn,” but you often don’t have that option.

And when you don’t, it’s so embarrassing. You see, most of us semicolons don’t have the purse or pocket space to carry around our own air freshener and we’d look like freaks, or terrorists, if we carried around a box full of matches.

Reason #9
As appetizing as the new fiber bars on the market look and smell, you’d better just stay away.

Dang you Kashi – you’ve got one that looks awesome too. But no matter how good you smell nor how cool your packaging works, there’s NO WAY I am even testing you out before a night away from home.

Reason #10
A heavy dose of stress works just like a bottle of MiraLax.

Some nights after a long day it’s like I’m preparing for a colonoscopy but without the day of fasting and scope in the morning.

Reason #11
Your dilemma: A healthy diet is full of fresh veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Some of your worst days are full of fresh veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

This one is still stumping me. I’m constantly fighting the balance of eating very healthy, whole, nutrient-full foods while keeping in mind those are often hardest on my colon. I am personally fortunate that I can still eat salads and other veggies that aren’t steamed given my situation. Many other semicolons don’t have it as fortunate.

March 12, 2010 at 4:57 pm Leave a comment

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