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My Tita/Aunt Perla and I, in a picture taken many years ago at my cousin's wedding.

Colon Cancer Prevention Hits Home

Although I am nowhere near the age of 50, the recommended age for colonoscopies, I finally went through my first colonoscopy today.  Why?  It turns out colon cancer runs in my family, and has claimed two dear aunts (sisters of my mother), Tita Maryann, and my godmother, Tita Perla.  Both ignored their symptoms, and got diagnosed too late in the game.  By the time my godmother finally paid attention to her stomach pains, she  discovered it was stage four colon cancer.  It took her a while to get to the doctor, partially because she was not one to enjoy doctor visits, and also, because of the cost.  She lived in the Philippines at the time.

I rather enjoyed my godmother’s good-natured humor, and her constant pinches at my ribsides while she giggled at me.  She was very shy, but had the most mischievous eyes.  She was always kind to me, and even brought me to an elaborate “WOW Philippines” show that showcased various Filipino dances from the different regions of the country.  She was always a bright light, and has a special place in my heart.  So, it was most upsetting to learn, after her passing, that colon cancer is preventable when found in its early stages, and any polyps can be removed during an examination of the colorectal area during a colonoscopy.

According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, “Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the US.”

Since the passing of her sisters, my mother has been vigilant about getting screened, and has urged myself and my brother, as well as her remaining brothers and sisters, to get screened as well.

So, although I was not looking forward to the process, I booked my colonoscopy for today, and went through the procedure of fasting the day beforehand, and took the pills and large jug of cleansing solution that had to be mixed with water and chilled, and took a glass of it every 10-15 minutes until finished.  I will not sugar coat it, the solution’s taste was horrible!  I even tried to add some digestive class by serving it to myself in a large, elegant wine glass.  I’ve had a lot of helpful Chinese herbal formulas in the past, and they don’t always taste the best, but at least they taste more earthy.

Also, as you may have noticed from previous blog posts, I enjoy food, and have never really fasted before, so not eating for 24 hours was like thrusting bamboo shoots under my fingernails!

All dramatics aside, the procedure was a breeze.  The gown, robe, and socks I changed into were comfortable.  The anesthesiologist had a very soothing demeanor, which made up for the doctor’s lacking bedside manner (although she was quick and really knew what she was doing), and the fact that a hypodermic needle was going to be inserted into my radial artery and linking propofol into my system.  Some places use anesthesia that won’t knock you out, but my doctor suggested propofol to ease the process, which was fine with me!  Nevermind that this was the same substance that was Michael Jackson’s demise, I’m always about everything in moderation.

I highly recommend taking off from any plans for preparation day, since your body may feel weak, and you will need to be close to the bathroom.  And although some people feel comfortable enough to go back to work right after procedure, I was one of those people who gave myself time to let my body settle, and enjoyed a nourishing dish, relishing every bite!

I got a clean bill of health, and don’t have to worry about another one until I’m 50.  I don’t mind the wait!

Ultimately, it’s important to listen to your body, and take preventive measures if any type of cancer runs in your family.  And if it does, you’ll need an earlier checkup than most.  Taking a moment to be still with your body, checking in with how it feels, is instrumental towards maintaining wellness, since our bodies often tell us if something is “off” if we just listen.  Acupuncture and reiki tap into our bodies’ natural abilities to heal itself, and even warriors during feudal times in China had acupuncture regularly to keep their physical and emotional temples finely tuned.

Are you listening to your body right now?



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