Feb 12, 2004 - 6:16 pm
Hi everyone. I've been reading everyone's posts and replies and sitting here laughing and crying and nodding my head in agreement and/or understanding, and I just want to tell my own story and give my own words of warning.
In 1996, my grandmother was diagnosed with colon cancer and ended up having an ileostomy. She underwent chemo and radiation therapy after she healed and she has been cancer free ever since. At the time all this was happening, her oncologist suggested that her immediate family have colonoscopies, "immediate" meaning her children. We were told not to worry about the grandchildren. Well, I'm here to tell you, if your grandparent is diagnosed with colon cancer, go get a colonscopy regardless. Better safe than sorry!
I am one of those people who had no symptoms at all to indicate anything was going on in my colon/rectal area. No change in bowel movements, no blood in the stools, nothing. I started running these low grade fevers for seemingly NO reason, starting losing my appetite and losing weight without even trying. I was having severe back pain; however, my fiancee and I had just gotten a tiny puppy and I was bending over a lot to pick him up, so I thought that was the cause of the back pain. Just by mere chance I went to see my endocrinologist for followup on my thyroid problem and she ran some lab studies, which showed an elevated alkaline phosphatase. So I went to see my PCP and he sent me for all kinds of x-rays and a full body bone scan. The bone scan showed "hot spots" and so he referred me to an oncologist who ran even MORE tests, and on Valentine's Day, 2003 a colonscopy ( just what every girl wants for Valentine's Day) showed I had a quarter-sized tumor in my rectum, which had metastasized to the bone. I was stage IV at that time. I had no surgery because my onocologist said there was no time, we needed to get chemotherapy started right away, so on February 21, 2003 it began. I had my last treatment on Halloween, and another colonoscopy November 17 showed that the tumor was gone, and a biopsy showed no active cancer. So, fortunately, I am currently in remission.
I'm very grateful to be a survivor! But I will always wonder if I had only had a colonoscopy back in 1996 (and yes, I was only 39) could all this have been avoided???