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Lumpy, Slimy and Inflamed

A nasty stomach virus might have saved this survivor from colon cancer.
PUBLISHED March 12, 2018
Ryan Hamner is a four-time survivor of Hodgkin lymphoma, a musician and a writer. In 2011, he wrote and recorded, "Where Hope Lives" for the American Cancer Society and the song for survivors, "Survivors Survive" used in 2015 for #WorldCancerDay. Recently, he published his book, This is Remission: A Four-Time Cancer Survivor's Memories of Treatment, Struggle, and Life, available on Amazon.
Recently, I was in the hospital with what I thought was a stomach virus engineered in an underground military lab. It was so bad that I also considered the fact that maybe I was taken by extraterrestrials and forced into some nefarious experiment. It didn't matter how I got whatever I was seemingly dying from, it was bad. Nothing would stay in me. My stomach made frightening noises that were often followed by a tense sprint to the restroom. I was in the hospital for seven very long days.

Ironically however, something good did come out of this stay in the hospital. I mean, not "good" as in like a pay raise at work, heading out on a vacation or finally winning the lottery that you were always, "going to win." I'm talking about good as in, well you might have just nipped cancer in the bud – which can directly tie into the whole pay raise at work, vacation and even the winning the lottery thing. Because cancer can change things very quickly.

After all of the blood draws, tests, cultures and whatever else, the most important part came. The "good" thing that came out of this disgusting stomach virus that led to a heart infection and a nasty sore throat was a colonoscopy. Yeah, I know, it doesn't sound "good," exactly. I definitely wasn't thrilled about the whole thing, either. However, because of the procedure, I had four pre-cancerous polyps discovered and removed. One of which was large.

Harvard reports that two thirds of colon polyps are pre-cancerous, and that it takes seven to 10 years for these polyps, known as adenomas, to become cancer. The truth is, I probably would have never requested a colonoscopy from my doctor, at any point. Which means that without this horrible stomach virus, these polyps may have never been discovered until they were causing bigger problems and were indeed cancerous.

Going forward, to reduce my chances of developing colon cancer, I'll be following some suggestions published on Harvard's website. These things include eating less red meat (bummer), taking aspirin daily and increasing my calcium intake. At the end of this whole ordeal, even after the doctors showed me the lining of my colon that appeared to be lumpy, inflamed and showed what appeared to be specs of green slime, all I actually saw was a lining that was silver. Yes, the polyps were pre-cancerous, but the discovery of them was, too.

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