Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

September 27, 2013

Mother’s diagnosis reveals need for check-up

By SARAH ROSE
Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW — When he walked towards me, I saw the look of concern on his face. My mom’s colonoscopy took twice as long as expected, so I was anxious.

“Is everything OK,” I asked quickly.

The doctor replied with a question, “Is Beverly your mom?”

“Yes,” my sister, my sister’s fiance and I answered in unison.

I noticed my hands shaking slightly when the doctor pulled up a chair next to the table at which we were sitting.

There was a long, uncomfortable pause.

The doctor proceeded to tell us he found a large mass in my mom’s colon. He said he was almost certain that it was cancerous because of its large size. He said he was going to send a biopsy of the mass to the lab.

When my mother woke up from her colonoscopy, the doctor didn’t tell her all the news. I guess he thought it would be better for her children to let her know what he found. As we were driving back to my mom’s house, she had a feeling that something was wrong because she could tell our cheeriness seemed forced. We wanted to tell her the news when we arrived home, so we tried to have an upbeat conversation about random topics during the drive.

“I’m not ignoring the elephant in the room,” my mom said to us when we were about halfway home.

We tried to tell her in the gentlest way possible. Surprisingly, she didn’t seem shocked at what we told her. She had worrisome symptoms for about a month and a half prior. She had severe constipation, which was very rare for her. She also had blood in her stools.

About a week later, my sister, her fiance and I gathered in the doctor’s office. My sister and I each held one of her hands when the doctor walked in. He had the same concerned look on his face.

It was cancer.

The doctor told her she would have to have a positron emission tomography (PET) scan to diagnose the stage. She couldn’t have the test done until two weeks later.

The hardest part was waiting. I kept telling myself that it was only stage 1. But when I read  some research that was completed on colon cancer, it became harder to remain optimistic. Most of it said if symptoms are already visible, it’s likely to be in a later stage. When I read that information, I realized just how important colonoscopies really are.

My heart broke when I found out that she had stage 3. Because it was in a later stage, she had to have chemotherapy and radiation every day Monday through Friday for six weeks. It was very hard on her. She didn’t work during that time.

She had surgery over a week ago. She was released from the hospital on Tuesday. Because the chemo and radiation didn’t shrink the tumor enough, she had to get an entire foot of her colon removed, as well as a few lymph nodes. During the second night of her hospital stay, my mom said the pain was so bad she wished she could die.

Are colonoscopies uncomfortable? I’m sure they are. But dealing with a colonoscopy is better than having cancer spread. My mom said the worst part of it was taking the laxatives for it, not the actual procedure itself. My mom was 59 when she had her colonoscopy done. According to cancercare.org and many doctors, men and women should have a colonoscopy when they are 50. If you have risk factors or a family history of colon cancer, talk to your doctor to see if it’s a good time to have one done. Colon cancer is nothing to mess around with.

Sarah Rose is a staff writer for the Glasgow Daily Times. She can be contacted by e-mail at srose@glasgowdailytimes.com.