Thursday, August 21, 2008
Daffodil Day August 22
Here in Australia today is Daffodil Day, the major cancer fund raising day in the southern hemisphere. As a cancer survivor myself, I know how important it is to keep fighting cancer so that more people survive this horrible disease. Almost 17 years ago, I was diagnosed with Colon Cancer and underwent surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy during a very harrowing time in my life.
I was determined that I would not die, although the prognosis was not good. My children, Fraser and Catriona were just 12 and 8 respectively and I wanted to be around to watch them grow up. In fact, it never really entered my head that I wouldn’t be. My determination to beat cancer, despite the odds, paid off. As you can see from earlier blogs this week, I have managed to live long enough to see Fraser become a father and marry the love of his life, Dana, last Friday.
Unfortunately, too many people still neglect the signs that all is not right with their bodies and allow cancer to overtake them. Ever since my diagnosis, I have tried to impress on my family and friends the importance of checking up on puzzling symptoms. Get them checked early and the rate of cancer survival is much better.
None of us likes to talk about those embarrassing signs of things that may be going wrong. Especially with bowel/colon cancer. Signs of bleeding, changes in bowel habits, pain, loss of weight – don’t put it off! Get yourself off to the doctor and insist on being properly checked over.
Have a colonoscopy if necessary. Yes, I know how awful having one is – I still need to have one every two years just to be sure. There have been lots of changes though and the colonoscopy preparation is much better than the drinking of four litres of Glycoprep (UGH!) that I had to go through twice in two days when I had my surgery the day after having the colonoscopy. Unfortunately, I had lunch in between, or I could have missed the second batch!
To my great regret, talking about the symptoms and encouraging people to speed off to the doctors did not save my beloved sister-in-law (my husband’s twin sister) from being taken from us by Colon Cancer. Now all of my family – all my blood relatives and also her blood relatives have been checked and are now clear. My father discovered he had polyps – a precursor to cancer – just months after my diagnosis. These were removed during the colonoscopy and now at 82 he continues to enjoy good health. For Fraser, one of the joys of turning 30 next year will be a reminder from his mother that he too should now join the ranks of those in the family undergoing regular checks.
If you are in the situation of having a few niggling little worries about some health issues – DON’T DELAY! Get yourself off to the doctor now. Give yourself the chance to beat cancer, if that is what it turns out to be. The minor embarrassments suffered are all worthwhile in the long run.