Follow-Up

I want to to provide some follow-up today to a previous (serious) post, and also answer a few questions.  I know today's subject matter is an unusual topic for me to address, but I write about the experiences in my life, whatever they might be.  If sharing those experiences helps to inform and/or educate other people I think it's worth taking the time and space to write about them.

 ** Before I start, I'd like to point out - I'm not in the medical profession.  If you have questions/concerns you should talk to your doctor. **

Dr. Important called yesterday.

We played phone tag for awhile, and I admit my stomach clenched with anxiety every time my phone rang until we finally connected.

Here are the biopsy results on the four colon polyps he removed:

One was benign … that means it was as innocent as I am. (!!!!)

Three were pre-cancerous, but came back with "clear margins" meaning he removed them in their entirety, leaving no bad cells behind.  (Which means, if I had not gone in for a colonoscopy they would have become cancer!)

Whew!

Can you spell r-e-l-i-e-f?

I'm so GLAD I had the test done, and so GLAD a doctor with the expertise of Dr. Important was the one doing it.

As far as next steps ….

I will be having a super-sized follow-up procedure with a more specialized scope (and under general anesthesia) in six months.  I will be checked frequently and vigilantly in the future.  And because of those things, I should be FINE.

A few of you wrote in with questions, and because I think YOUR HEALTH is important, I'm going to answer your questions publicly.

•  What symptoms did I have?  Most of the time, polyps cause NO symptoms.  I was experiencing a burning sensation under my rib cage.  It was up high on my body and I initially thought it might be an ulcer.  As it turns out, I'm a freak of nature and have an unusually long colon.  It's all twisted up inside of me which is probably what was causing the sensation, not the actual polyps the doctor discovered.

•  What is a polyp?  A polyp is a growth.  There are different types of polyps, and some are more likely to become cancerous than others.

•  What causes polyps?  There are a few different things that can cause polyps: 

Genetics are a big factor.  If anyone in your immediate family (mother, father, sisters, brothers) have had polyps, you are much more likely to get them also and should start being checked at age 40, or sooner if you have any changes/symptoms such as constipation or diarrhea for more than a week, and/or bleeding.  

I didn't know prior to my test, but it turns out – my mother and brother have had polyps.  No one had ever told me, so I thought there was no family history to be concerned with.  I had also told Dr. Important I had no family history of colon cancer or polyps.  We were both shocked when he discovered four polyps.  Once he found out I DO have a family history, he was no longer at all surprised.

 (Apparently no one in my family thought it ideal to discuss colonoscopies and polyps over dinner.  They were WRONG.  Knowing your family history could save your life.)

Your diet is also a huge determining factor.  

Studies have found polyps are found at a more frequent rate in people who eat a lot of processed/chemically treated foods.  (I don't, by the way.)

Additional studies have found polyps are more frequently discovered in people who have diets high in saturated fats.  (I don't have a diet high in saturated fats either.)

I think most adults know, for good health in general, what foods are in the healthy vs. unhealthy categories.  

And no, I don't want to argue the details folks.  

We all can agree candy does not provide the nutrients an orange does.  Ice cream vs. broccoli, etc.

Eating a healthy, balanced, diet is better than eating a crappy one.

Smoking/Alcohol – Studies have found people who smoke, and people who drink a lot of alcohol, are more likely to form colon polyps.

Lack of exercise – People who don't exercise regularly are more likely to form polyps.

Overweight – People who are overweight are more likely to form polyps.  (And no, I haven't lost all of the weight I gained while on prednisone!)

•  Is there anything I can do to cut down on my chances of forming polyps or having colon cancer?  Yes, you can't control your genetics, but you can eat healthy, exercise, watch your weight, and moderate/decrease your smoking and/or drinking.  Those are all things we're supposed to be doing anyway, right?  

And yes, you can be doing everything "right" and STILL form polyps.

(Isn't life grand?!)

There are also some indications increasing your calcium intake may decrease polyp formation.  

Lastly, I'd like to urge all of you to get over your colonoscopy fears (which I had too!) and follow your doctor's recommendations for preventative health care.

I cannot stress the importance enough.

© Twenty Four At Heart

22 Responses to “Follow-Up”

  1. Jan

    I’m SO relieved! I’ve been thinking a lot about you since you posted about the colonoscopy.
    And I’m not going to argue any details with you (at least not here; we can keep all of that over at my place LOL). Just be very, very happy for you. 😉

  2. Di

    Thanks for posting this. I had been wondering what your results were and am jumping with joy that test results were GOOD! I know most doctors recommend colonoscopies at the age of 50 but in my opinion they should be done when in our 40’s. My girlfriend had one at age 45 and it turned out to be colon cancer. I’m glad you had Dr. Important… unfortunately not all doctors turn out to be important, but rather…. dolts. People need to listen to their body sometimes and not their doctor.

  3. Suzanne Y.

    Great news! Let’s all celebrate by making an appointment for own colonoscopy and finish it off with a round of broccoli!

  4. Pam

    Wow! That is GREAT news! I’m so glad to hear it.
    Congratulations!
    Pam

  5. Liz Tee

    R-E-L-I-E-F! My ex had NINE of those pre-cancerous polyps removed when he went in for his first at age 50 a couple of years back. No family history (or at least none that anyone talked about). So very happy that you got a good result! Hugs to you and your extra-long colon. 🙂

  6. Missy

    That God for the good news. You will just be vigilant now. Knowledge is power. Yeah for Dr. Important.

  7. Anne Gibert

    You were sensible to have this done and fortunate to have a good doctor. You are a good example to people like me who know they should but can’t quite get up the nerve.

  8. Linda

    Yay 24- I am very happy to hear you dodged that bullet. Stay ever vigilent sweetheart, we love you

  9. Alexis (Minnesota)

    Well, good news is……GOOD! Thank you for the update. I had the stupid thing years ago and it was much ado for me. I don’t get all the build-up. I guess ‘cuz after having kids….there’s no such thing as private privates. With the delivery of my twins there was a whole friggin team of docs staring at my nether-regions. But, again, that’s just me.
    So so glad you’re okay! Stay the course girl!!

  10. Suzy

    A friend of mine has colon cancer in her family (4 deaths total)and she gets checked every 6 months and they always find polyps and always snip them out. She is also overweight, drinks a lot of alcohol and her exercise is walking.
    Glad you’re okay.

  11. Pseudo

    I missed the first post, but am happy with the outcome.
    I had my first colonoscopy this year too. I’ve been cleared for the next three years.
    Will email you some of the changes I made to get my digestive system back in shape after the chemo.

  12. Jane

    What a relief. You’ve convinced me to have this done even though the very thought of drinking that stuff makes me want to puke. I’m so happy that everything is OK for you.

  13. Kathy

    I have a family history of colon cancer, and had my first colonoscopy a year and a half ago. It wasn’t bad – the worst part was the prep – and for that, you just bring a book into the bathroom with you – and when you think that you’re done – you’re not. LOL
    If you’re on the fence – get it done!! Colon cancer is one of the most treatable cancers there is.
    Had my mother had hers done earlier, she’d probably still be alive today.

  14. Jason

    I share everybody’s relief here, for sure! And not only have you relieved us, you have also educated us.
    Live a healthy lifestyle=be healthy
    OR
    Live a healthy lifestyle=get cancer anyway
    ARGH!!!!
    I’m so glad you’re okay. Stay on top of that!
    xoxo

  15. Denise ;)

    I’m reallly happy for You! Prayers do work. 😉

  16. Momo Fali

    You are so awesome for talking about something that EVERYONE needs to talk about, but no one ever does. I’m glad you went in. I’m really glad that everything will be okay.

  17. Kristen

    Oh my gosh, so glad you caught this early. Especially since you are so young, and don’t have many risk factors.

  18. Erica

    I am so glad you caught it in time. Good job! 🙂

  19. DuchessOmnium

    I meant to drop in sooner to get the results (and I am so glad they were as good as they were). I got a big distracted with my ex husband’s emergency colonoscopy which he had today… When I picked him up after the procedure (all the nurses thought it was very funny that his ex-wife was the designated driver) he was all smiles. They did take some cells for biopsy, but saw nothing more than divurticulitis to worry about. So phew! for him too.
    And thank goodness for your 24 (=weird and funky) colon — I am so glad they caught the baddies got caught pre-cancerous.

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