I’m No Longer Stubborn When It Comes to Cancer Screenings

Published on: 

Many men — my former self included — can be stubborn when it comes to cancer screenings or visiting the doctor. Thankfully I’ve changed my ways, which saved my life.

Another day, another cancer screening. A lot of men fear getting diagnosed with cancer, so they avoid their regular health screenings. Honestly, I did as well because if it wasn’t for some common symptoms for colorectal cancer like blood in my stool, change in bowel movements and unusually fatigue I would have ignored it myself. Luckily my wife encouraged me to get screened, which ultimately saved my life.

I had an appointment with my dermatologist recently to check if any more skin cancer is found on my body. I have had three skin cancer surgeries over the last four years. The last surgery she had to go into the second layer of skin to get clear margins. Those sunny days working on my grandfather's farm and the endless sunbathing at the beach in my younger days are playing against me today.

I also had a colonoscopy a few months ago as follow-up care after surviving stage 3B colorectal cancer almost five years ago. I had no new polyps and my recent follow-up scans show I continue to be cancer free. I am relieved but realize I must continue my follow-up care to prevent recurrence. I will move into a five-year surveillance plan for colorectal cancer in a few months.

The proper screening age today for colorectal cancer is age 45, but I did not get my routine screening for colon cancer until age 50. The cancer was known to have been living in my body for seven to 10 years before I had any symptoms, as a precancerous polyp eventually turned into a 10-centimeter tumor that had to be surgically removed along with three cancerous lymph nodes. If I had gotten screened earlier, I might not have had to endure the chemotherapy I did to survive it.Early screenings could have prevented this from happening. A colonoscopy is not fun for anyone, but I learned that a couple days of discomfort can save you from years of treatment to save your life.

I have my PSA checked yearly for prostate cancer screening because my dad developed prostate cancer in his early 60s. My recent follow-upsscan for my colorectal cancer also showed my prostate to be of normal shape, and my PSA is low and normal as well. Being over 50 and with a family history, I make it a point to have it checked yearly.

In my early 20s, I had an undescended testicle surgically removed to prevent the development of testicular cancer. I thought I was just born a “uniballer” until a doctor told me during a routine physical the risk of developing this type of cancer. Testicular cancer is a fairly common type of early onset cancer in men between the ages of 15 to 35. A simple monthly self exam or routine physical from a doctor is the best way to detect testicular cancer.

Many men go to a doctor when they have a serious medical condition, which can be a major misstep in men getting proper cancer screenings done.

Just because you survived one type of cancer doesn’t mean you can’t be diagnosed with another. It’s essential to keep up with your regular health screenings.

For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.