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!