Catch Cancer Early and It Can Be Easier

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Two weeks in the hospital is no fun, but completely worth it when cancer is caught and treated early.

Editor’s Note: This piece was submitted by a contributing writer and does not represent the views of CURE Media Group.

If you catch cancer early, it can be cured quickly.

In the summer of 2005, I got a new primary care physician after several years of being without one. He noted that I was at the age where I should get a colonoscopy. I wasn't thrilled by the idea, but I thought I'll just do it and get it over with.

My test was scheduled for a few days before Halloween. As anyone who has had a colonoscopy knows that the prep before the procedure is much more trying than the actual event. When I came out of the anesthesia, the gastroenterologist told me that there was a "mass" in my colon that would have to come out. He told me that I needed to make an appointment with my physician right away. He didn't call it cancer, but I think he knew what it was.

The next day, I went to talk to my physician, who gave me the bad news. He said I was very lucky to have it discovered at such an early stage. I wasn't feeling particularly lucky at the time, but I got his point. On the drive home, I practiced saying "I have cancer."

It took a while to arrange for the surgery, and I went in a few days before Thanksgiving. The procedure took longer than expected, in part because I was so overweight (I'm not now, but that's another story). I remember being in the recovery room and being told that I was on morphine. I thought, "I must really be in bad shape if I feel so bad while on morphine."

The next few days were pretty painful. Then there was the day when I got the hiccups for about 12 hours straight. However, I mended, and two weeks later I was released. It took another two weeks of recuperation at home before I went back to work.

My oncologist said that my tumor was small, and that there was little chance that it had spread. He gave me the choice about whether or not I wanted to undergo chemotherapy. After weighing the facts, I decided against it. Over the next few years, I became a colonoscopy veteran, as well as having some acquaintance with CAT scans, sonograms and MRIs. All signs of the cancer were gone, and eventually, my oncologist told me not to come back. I still get colonoscopies every couple of years, but, after a decade, I have seen no more cancer.

So, here is my advice: Get the colonoscopy when your doctor tells you to. Cancer can be beaten decisively if you intervene early. The two weeks in the hospital weren't any fun, but I got through them and went back to my life.