Dairy of a Mad Polyp

A humorous look at how a Latina stumbled upon colon cancer

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On a brisk and cool April 1st Sunday morning Team Beth Israel Cares participated on the 9th annual Colon Cancer Challenge walk held in Central Park, NY. The team raised close to $4,000 in donations!!

On a brisk and cool April 1st Sunday morning Team Beth Israel Cares participated on the 9th annual Colon Cancer Challenge walk held in Central Park, NY. The team raised close to $4,000 in donations!!

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Update (Finally!!)

It’s been 3 years since my diagnosis, and a lot has changed since that diagnosis. Thank god I’m still cancer free, I still visit my oncologist every quarter and get CT scans every 6 months.

Two months after my operation (in March) I lost my job, or rather - the office itself closed, putting 18 people out of work. Although I was bummed out to be out of work but at the same time grateful that I’m celebrating my 46th birthday at the same time. To me, it was just yesterday when I was diagnosed and wondered if I was going to see my next birthday. I was out of work for over a year and I decided to do some volunteer work at the very hospital I had the surgery. Well… that volunteer work did turn into a job, it’s part time but I am in the Union with benefits. Meanwhile, I’ve decided to pursue my interest in becoming a nurse, so I’ve started working on my pre-requisites I need to finish in order to apply to nursing school. Since I already have a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Communication arts all I need is the science courses.

Sounds easier than it is. These science courses are challenging, I’m taking one course at a time at BMCC. But I’ happy I’m doing it - I feel like a sense of accomplishment each time I complete a course.

Oh yes… I almost forgot… I designed a logo and a tee shirt for colon cancer awareness called “Get Screened Now!”, I designed other products such as teddy bears, mugs, waterbottles and other products - here’s the website, check it out: www.getscreenednow.org. I created a day for Get Screened Now! - March 22.
I also speak in colon cancer awareness events held at community centers and hospitals - I work with doctors and patient advocates and at the speaking engagements I give away a teddy bear for every person who signs up for a screening. any people like the teddies - people’s eyes light up when I present them to the audience. The next step? perhaps forming a non-profit so I could apply for grants to continue to distribute the tees and teddies and continue speaking at engagements.

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Chapter 1, The journey begins…

My journey started out innocently enough, during a doctor’s visit a blood test reveled that I was anemic so my doctor followed up with a plethora of additional tests of everything under the sun, more blood work, and other samples which shall remain nameless but one could use their imagination.

While waiting for the results of these tests and consequently the follow-up consult. I came home early one evening and turned the TV on.

This was late August 2008.

Oprah was on.

The show was going to cut to commercial with Oprah’s words “when we come back Dr. Oz will have the poop discussion”.

Dr. Oz is on!! And… he’s going to have WHAT discussion?! Did I hear right?

That got my attention.

So I sat down and heard Dr. Oz’s description of “good poop” and “bad poop”.

As he was describing the “bad poop” I realized that I had most… if not all… those symptoms.

“I don’t remember the last time I saw a “C” or “S” shape” I said outloud to myself.

Then Dr Oz mentioned that if there is increased frequency in any or all symptoms to discuss it with your Doctor.

Back to my doctor’s office two weeks later, the results of all the tests showed that I was enemic. Thinking the symptoms was stress related I nevertheless happen to tell my doctor of the Oprah episode with Dr. Oz and how my symptoms were increasing in frequency. She decided to send me to the gastroenterologist – just to be safe. 

A month later I’m discussing my symptoms with the gastroenterologist …to be noted… I didn’t have any bleeding or pain (or any other external symptoms) and, although I’m too young to have one (45) – he schedules a Colonoscopy based on the symptoms that was provided to me by Dr. Oz. with his poop discussion.

Three weeks later I’m back at the Gastroenterologist’s office having the colonoscopy. I must admit… the hardest part of the exam is the prepping the day before. You had to drink this liquid from a big plastic jug the Dr. gives you, it comes with 4 flavor packets. Everyone I talked to who had the procedure said that the Pineapple flavor is the best – so I mixed the Pineapple flavor with the liquid in the plastic jug and started drinking.

Having the procedure was easy; I was basically knocked out during the whole event.

There I was back in the examination room waiting for the doctor to come in with the results.

Being that I always eat well (basically a Mediterranean diet) along with an active lifestyle (working out at the gym 6 days a week & tons of walking… this is NY after all) I was expecting a clean bill of health.

Then the Dr. walked in with a concerned look in his eyes and the announcement that he had to stop the procedure due to “an obstruction”.

This was on December 31st, 2008.

Filed under colon colon cancer survival story colon cancer story

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Chapter 2 The Obstruction

At that moment my mind went blank, “an obstruction… what does that mean?” deep down knowing full well what it meant, but I had to hear it from him.
“There’s something in the way, I couldn’t go any further”. He replied, “I need you to lie on the table”. Which I did, still trying to comprehend what’s happening.
He felt my abdomen and replied that he could feel something on my right side. “See, on your left side I feel nothing” he said as he was kneading my left side, “but on the right I could feel something… right here” as he kneaded my right side.
“I’m going to send you to get a CT scan, I’ll have the front desk make the appointments”.
A week later I was in Beth Israel Hospital getting a CT scan. As I was in the waiting room drinking this liquid before the procedure I looked around at the other patients waiting to have similar testing done. Not one of them looked to be under 60. “What am I doing… here?” I said to myself as I was drinking this liquid. Still in disbelief, I was convinced that the CT scan would reveal that everything is negative, and the Dr. was wrong.

I went about my life and pushed back the thought of the “obstruction” until the following week when I went back to the Gastroenterology office with the results.
I was back in the Gastroenterology exam room when he came in with the same concerned look in his eyes.

That made me worried.

“Well, you have a large tumor which points to Colon Cancer”.

First disbelief crossed my mind… then with a nervous laugh I replied that he must have the wrong file, I’m the healthiest person I know.

He looked down at the file and said… “No… I’ll read you the results of the CT scan…”.

As he was reading the results my mind was racing… how could this be happening to me?!! Why would this be happening… to me?!!

And me without a bucket list!

My life flashed before me, grateful for my past accomplishments but was looking forward to a future with many more.
“What’s the next step”? I asked.
“The next step is a surgical consult, you will need to have this tumor removed immediately, I know of an excellent surgeon that has performed many procedures, I’ll have the front desk make the appointment”
“Ok, that’s fine” I replied stunned, I looked down my PDA and saw the time; I made a remark that I wouldn’t be too late for work.
“Your going to back work?” he replied, shocked.
“Yes… what else should I do?”
That’s how I handle stressful situations; I would keep busy so I wouldn’t have to think about it.

Thinking is bad in these situations.

After the front desk made the appointment for the surgical consult I went outside, which in early January happened to be the coldest day to the year. I called my friend to tell her what happened.

Funny thing is, I just started this job in New Jersey back in Late August and just past the probation period, and I now have health insurance.

It couldn’t have come at a better time.