Skip to comments.The End of My Cancer
Posted on 08/16/2010 10:46:29 AM PDT by Congressman Billybob
On 23 April I had a routine colonoscopy, and found out that I had cancer. I knew then Id have to write this column once I knew the outcome. I had 25 days of chemotherapy, simultaneous with radiation therapy, followed by surgery on 11 August.
The pathology reports came back yesterday. They were, as my surgeon said, the best possible, given the circumstances. They were clean margins and clean lymph nodes. The margins are the areas all around the site of the surgery. The lymph nodes are where cancer usually spreads first, from its original site.
In laymens terms, I am cancer-free. Going in my purpose for this column was, and still is, to save some lives. Three of the most common cancers in America today are colon and prostate cancer for men and breast cancer for women. All three have a common characteristic. They can be often and easily cured if they are detected early.
Let me repeat that, and pardon me for shouting, but THESE CANCERS CAN BE EASILY CURED IF THEY ARE DETECTED EARLY.
What stands in the way of early detection? The tests for these cancers, especially colon and breast, are obnoxious. Everyone winces and shudders when the tests are mentioned. I know.
I felt the same way when a routine examination with no symptoms showing, saved me from colon cancer once before. That one was only pre-cancerous. But it would have developed to the point of killing me years ago, if I had let it go.
After one time at the rodeo, you get cautious. I got routine exams on a routine basis. The readers of my columns are, I know, older and better educated than most. Many of you are woman or men of a certain age. Or, you may have risk factors for cancer in your personal or family history.
If there is any reason in your age or risk factors why you should have a routine exam for any of these cancers, set this column aside and make the call. A day or twos worth of discomfort, yes, and embarrassment, is a small price to pay for a couple decades of not being dead.
Ive written about my situation as if it was, or had become, a day at the beach. It isnt and it hasnt. Chemotherapy and radiation both tear up your systems. When my father died of cancer, forty years ago, both of those treatments were crude, in their infancy, and nearly as harmful as the cancer itself. Today, the reverse is true. Both treatments have been refined, and are used together to shrink the cancer in advance of surgery. Thats exactly what happened in my case.
With the good news I got yesterday, I ought to be in a good mood. Well, there is this gastric tube down my nose that is continuously draining my stomach. That is to compensate for the fact that my colon has not fully awakened from its slumber. And, did I mention that Ive given up all pain killers to aid in that process?
Try being stitched up down your front like a baseball. Add to that your must cough to clear your lungs, to avoid pneumonia. Then add that I have refused any pain shots. Since 11 August I have eaten nothing but ice, and two cups of apple juice. Life aint easy for a boy named Sue.
I am not, however, complaining. As Maurice Chevalier said of old age. It is fine, considering the alternative. The alternative is what I came to talk with you about, today. There are people reading this right now, whose lives can be saved, if you get an exam right now.
Let me repeat that, YOUR LIFE MIGHT BE SAVED IF YOU GET A CANCER TEST TODAY.
I expect and hope that about five people will have their lives saved by my relating my experiences in this column. And, yes, the title of this column was a deliberate pun. If this works for you, please let me know.
Note that I havent mentioned my doctors or nurses. There were nine doctors, and many more nurses. I am grateful for the excellence of their medical care.
Changing subjects abruptly, part of the goal of my surgery was to be ready on 12 September to March down Constitution Avenue with 38 of my fellow citizens, dressed as the signers of the Constitution. I get to be Ben Franklin. There should be about a million Americans there. I hope the American press might even notice and cover that event.
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About the Author: John Armor practiced before the Supreme Court for 33 years. John_Armor@aya,yale.edu His latest book, now in print, is on Thomas Paine. www.TheseAreTheTimes.us
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John / Billybob
Amen! Welcome back to Life!
I had my first colonoscopy 7 mos. ago and the results were good (eg. no cancer) and just a couple of polyps he removed. The absolute worst part was the day before, drinking that gak and then crapping like a goose.
Glad to hear you are on the mend, my FRiend.
I am scheduling an exam shortly. ‘Pod
This is a very important post. My father-in-law enjoyed clean living. He often rode his bike to work (in Canada, no less), was 6’3” and 170 lb., ate VERY healthy, and was rarely sick and always toughed it out. BUT, both his parents died of colon cancer. He was only in his early fifties when he contracted colon cancer. By the time it was discovered, it was too late. He took it well, had provided for his family financially through insurance, and died a holy death. He is also very much missed by his wife, children, six brothers, grandchildren and many friends.
Listen to Congressman BillyBob. If you have any of those markers, or are hitting your strride in middle age, get tested. It’s not as bad as the Dave Barry column makes it sound.
Great news - congratulations....
(My one-year follow up PET scan - one year after the end of my Chemo-Radiation treatment - is scheduled for this coming Thursday, and I, and my Oncologist, are fully expecting the result to be “One year cancer-free”.... )
Please never say "thumbs up" when the post is about colonoscopy...
Had mine in May - 2 benign polyps zap zap - Colonoscopy - This is a must. All is good.
God Bless and hope you doing well all things considered! My mother has had pre-cancereous colon polyps removed, twice. So, according to my dr. I will need to start having the colonoscopy around the age or even before the age, when my mother had hers discovered. Not looking forward to it but it is good to be aware.
That Dave Berry piece is totally ROFLOL!!!!
Ok Billybob. It worked. You can count at least one person who will VERY RELUCTANLY sign up for a colonoscopy. I have put if off for decades! Guess I’ll call an make an appointment for next week. This week is already full!
Prayers up for your continued recovery.
As one whose father had colon cancer surgery and survived for 33 years afterward, and as a guy who had 2 polyps removed a week ago during my 2nd colonoscopy, I salute you and wish you well!
Thanks for helping spread the word. As you said, a couple of days of minor discomfort beats the heck out months of suffering as you die from cancer that was detected too late.
Thanks! I was thinking of that column when I wrote my first response! Funny man that Dave Barry.
Wonderful news for you. I can’t imagine the relief you must feel. I hope everybody on FR over the age of 50 heeds your advice and talks to their physician about a screening colonoscopy. As they say, the prep is the worst of it — the procedure is not uncomfortable. Yes, it is embarrassing but I work in a hospital and trust me, these doctors have seen lots of rectums and yours isn’t anything special to them so get over it. I see the surgeon who did mine on an almost daily basis in the hospital hallways. He pretends mine never happened which is exactly what I told him to do!
Use you Incentive Spirometer...Cough and deep breath when you think about it. And get up and walk as much as you can.
My best to you....FRegards,
Congrats on the good news. I had my own miserable
battle with cancer in 1985 from August to December.
Surgery and 3000 rads of radiation did the job. A
couple CAT scans and lymphangiogram were done
for good measure. Hang in!
My oldest brother has stage 4 prostate cancer and another brother caught his prostate cancer early because of the diagnosis of the oldest brother.
The scary thing is the younger brother was told by his doctor not to worry about his rising PSA "because it was still in the normal range". All I can say is what an idiot! Half of his prostate was eaten up with cancer, but amazingly enough had not spread.
This has become my entire family's mission now. To top all of this off, absolutely NO FAMILY HISTORY of prostate cancer or any other type of cancer. It has scared my entire family.
So two of my four brothers have prostate cancer. Scary.
My husband just had a colonoscopy and all is well. The worst part for him, in his opinion, was the liquid diet the day before. He handled the icky cleaning out better than that. :-)
A fellow survivor offers congratulations.
LOL.... very funny.
Reminds me of this story.
Last year I went for my first prostate exam. I was the doctor’s last patient for the day. He quickly finished his business and left the room, telling me to take the paperwork to the nurse at the front desk.
By the time I got up to the nurse, the doctor had already left the building without speaking to her about my appointment.
She said, “So, I guess, everything felt normal?”
I said, “It didn’t feel normal to me. He just stuck his finger up my butt!”
God bless you and thank you for your wonderful post.
You need to stay healthy, patriot, your countrymen need you.
Thank you for this and congratulations.
My family has some heavy duty history with this type of cancer, including me. You might want to ask your doctors about bone scans. My father had also been “cancer free” but after a year or so the cancer reappered in his bones.
In the end it was a blood clot that killed him.
For a humorous look at the experience, do read MY COLONOSCOPY BY DAVE BARRY.
Good to hear. Stay well. :-)
CBB is right.
The checkup is frankly pretty easy.
Prep is so-so but its only a day of uncomfort and its done at home.
Beats the heck out of the options!
Glad you are still with us CBB!!!!
Good news Monday. Keep us posted.
Hope you’re totally well soon!
Congratulations and may you stay cancer-free. It is a frightening experience I know. I’m a breast cancer survivor and I’ll never forget the feeling I had when the doctor told me I had breast cancer. Been over five years now and still doing well. Do report to my oncologist every six months and also had a colonoscopy earlier this year. As some of the other posters said the liquid diet etc the day before was worse than the procedure itself.
After that, and after two maternal aunts developed breast cancer. I made SURE I got a pap smear and Mammo, EVERY year. And a couple of years ago, at the age of 55, I got my first colonoscopy. Now there is a baseline, and I don't have to go back for another few years. Yes, they're uncomfortable, but cancer treatment is much worse!
Take good care of yourselves, folks. Even if no one is depending on your presence, there are many who prefer that you are here!!
Here I was just sitting here thinking about my 50th birthday next month and wondering how lng I could stall my Dr insistance on a coloscopy.I’m female but have a family history of that so I already know he’s going to want to send me for one. :( *sigh* Guess I’d better quit wanting to stall it?
Glad to hear everything has gone so well for you. I’ve had two colonoscopys and found drinking the ‘stuff’ prior was the worst and even that wasn’t that bad.
Last month I had surgery for an incarcerated hernia and had the nasal gastric tube for over a week and no food or drink for 6 days, so I know what you mean about those two things. I, too have that nice long incision.
Ummm, when they remove that nasal tube. It stings real bad. Took my breath away. Felt like they pulled my eyeballs down my throat. Doesn’t hurt for real long, but, it does get your attention.
Best wishes for a full and speedy recovery. :)
Congrats!! Thanks for posting this!
Can't be said loud enough. Colon cancers are one of the deadliest if not caught earlier, but also one of easiest and less evasive ones to cure if caught early.
I had my 50,000 mile check-up last year, and I'm glad to announce I have a colon of a 20 year old.
From this cancer survivor to you, dear BillyBob...having cancer is indeed a humbling experience. Life is good. God is good.
Of course I was completely oblivious to it because of the drugs. The worst part was the 'prep' and with the new stuff even that isn't unbearable.
One thing's for damned sure. It's a lot less unpleasant than a case of fatal colon cancer.
Glad to hear you're going to be ok. Good luck, sir.
Actually, you sleep through the whole procedure, and even after you wake up, you don't remember very much.
Also, please keep in mind, should the diagnosis be bad, that radiation treatment and chemotherapy are much, much better than they were twenty, or even ten, years ago. Much better.
Once you reach "that certain age", or if you have a family history of colon cancer, GO GET THE COLONOSCOPY. You won't regret it.
Good news! I hope you feel all recuperated very soon, and I look forward to seeing your photo, with you dressed as Ben Franklin, on FR!
these days, they put you completely out for the Colonoscopy, and you wake up none the worse for wear.
As has been commented before, what sucks is the “cleansing” beforehand. Argh.
Wow I bet that 20 year old is really pissed at you.
I haven’t had the colonoscopy, but I just wanted to say something about the Versed that was given. I had Versed when I had some oral surgery a couple of years ago. I can describe it thusly: I little Iv injection, then the doc said “open your mouth wide”, and then he said “Get out of the chair, we’re finished.” That Versed is really an amazing drug. And no. I didn’t leave anything out between open your mouth wide and get out of the chair. As far as I knew, that was all that happened. Versed also contains an amnesiac, which makes it the best way to go as far as I’m concerned.
Actually once you are done with the “cleansing” phase, it feels really good. People in Switzerland go to clinics and pay $1,500 a day for “colon cleansing” which is just an expensive way to accomplish exactly what the “go juice” does.
I missed your earlier column. I am so glad the first I hear of this is on the side of good news rather than uncertainty. Fantastic news!
Thanks for taking the time to write this. Am so happy to hear how well you are doing.
It should be noted that everyone handles it differently. I lost my mother to lung cancer 2 1/2 years ago. She made it through the radiation just fine, able to function and go places, but the first round of chemo about killed her. She passed out and they had to revive her and she wound up hospitalized after wards. She never did recover from that.