The Final Test: Colonoscopy Results
After not eating for 36 hours, I headed in to have my colonoscopy. The nurse remembered me from last year, and shared that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer in July, but it had been caught early enough that she was able to have both breasts removed without going through chemotherapy. We shared a small moment of misery, knowing that we would both have to be careful for the rest of our lives, living with the possibility of the return of cancer, and without having any test to know one way or the other. I was then wheeled into the operation room, where country music was playing at top volume. I’ve become very picky when it comes to music. I’m not one of those people that likes everything but country. I dislike most music, including country. I lay there, attached to wires and tubes, listening to a song about being a true American, thinking it must be situations like this that make people believe in hell and how great it will be when we get there.
The colonoscopy wasn’t as scary the second time around. I brought peanuts this time, so when it was over I would have something to eat right away. Once I was awake enough to walk, I made it over to the office where Mark joined me, and we waited for the doctor to bring in the results and I shoved fists full of peanuts into my mouth. He brought in two pages, already a good sign after the four pages of pictures of my tumor he brought in last time. To recap, last year I had a large tumor, and two large polyps. The polyps were removed during the colonoscopy and the tumor would later be attacked with chemo, radiation, and surgery. This year I had two small starts of poylps, both were removed and are currently being tested. There are three types of polyps (or at least that’s what I’ve been told for my situation), non-cancerous, pre-cancerous, and cancerous. We were told it probably wouldn’t be the non-cancerous kind, not after I had just had the cancerous kind. So at this point, the best case scenario is that they were caught before they turned cancerous, and I will need a colonoscopy every year to keep removing them before they turn into cancer, or they are cancerous and I will have to continue treatment for cancer.
I’m not in as much shock as last year. I’m not as scared. I’m still disappointed. I was hopeful that this test would have good results like the rest of my tests, and come up with nothing. The doctor said, “What it looks like here is that you’re getting the same pre-cancerous polyps that people usually don’t get until after age 50.” To which I reply with, “People say I’m an old soul, but I guess I’ve got an old colon, too.” Dead air. Doctors never laugh at my jokes. Ever. He continued to say that if the biopsy agrees with his theory, it might be as simple as yearly colonoscopies to remove pre-cancerous polyps, but we’ll have to wait til the biopsy is done to know for sure.
I considered waiting for the results before I posted, but then Mark and I would be the only ones stuck in the suspense of the unknown. This is what it’s like to have cancer, never knowing what is coming next. Never knowing if good news is really good news, or if it’s just a delay of eventual bad news. All I know for sure is that I’m alive today, I feel okay, and I’m going to continue to enjoy each day. It’s expected that something like cancer could cause a person to enjoy the good things in life more, but it didn’t change a thing for me in that way. I’ve always, for as long as I can remember, woken up every day, looked in the mirror, and said to myself, “Remember this could be it. This could be your last day. Enjoy what you can.” I’ve since added, “And forgive yourself if you can’t.”