Last June, I told you here and there and the other place about my Valerie and her cancer surgery.
Another doctor had suggested we simply dive into chemotherapy "just in case" — which struck me as a really bad idea — but the oncologist suggested no such thing.
The big test in our future was the colonoscopy. Ugh.
In the surgery, the doctor discovered and removed cancer, but found the lymph nodes to be clear. Yet this did mean that part of her colon had cancer. Was there cancer in other parts of her colon, as-yet undetected? This was the concern that lurked dormant at the back of both Valerie's thoughts and mine, in the intervening months — as she slowly but surely recovered from surgery, planned our trip to the UK, and then went abroad with the boys and me.
All that time, we knew we were coming back to the first real big test, and uncertain results.
It was a dread behind all of both of our thoughts, which we didn't share with the yowwens or with many other folks, but on occasion spoke of with each other.
Monday was the big day. Poor Valerie had to fast for some 36 hours, then drink gallons of a laxative. Then, 1pm on Monday, the colonoscopy.
First, after Valerie was taken off to the exam area, I was put in the tiny room (now full of people) in which I'd spent some of the most miserable centuries of my life that night last June. I was led to think the doctor would come talk to me after the exam. Then I was moved to the endoscopy recovery room to wait. Then out came Valerie, smiling, and she told me the news: all clear! No problems, not even a polyp. Praise God, praise God.
We talked with the doc, who affirmed the good news and confirmed what we already knew. She'd get another check in a year, and then if that's all clear, the tests would becom more spaced out.
So... whew! That's a relief, one dark cloud blown away. Valerie has a clean start. There is lingering concern because her colon has formed cancer in the past; but now we know that at present, that was all the cancer she had.
Valerie thanks you all for your concern and for your prayers. She's deeply grateful to all of you who prayed, as am I.
Now the exhortation: if you're at that magic age, man or woman, get your colonoscopy. I've had mine, and will tell you I remember next to nothing. It wasn't a trauma. A friend just had his; same story. And now Valerie would agree: the worst part was the fasting and the laxative, and even that (given that it had to happen at all) was quite bearable. The test was just about nothing.
Plus, this kind of cancer is eminently treatable if caught early. But check those words: if caught early. Valerie has lost two coworkers to colon cancer. It's a killer, it's not to be messed with. As unpleasant as the test may seem, it's nothing compared to the surgery, or the cancer. (You might refresh your perspective with Dave Barry's hilarious yet on-target personal reflection.)
Now our kids will have to get their tests at 40 instead of 50, that's one unpleasant side-effect of it visiting our family. But don't assume that the absence of cancer means you're a statistical shoo-in. Valerie did not have a family history of cancer; I did. Yet it tagged Valerie.
So trust and pray, but be wise, too.
Get your test.
I don't have any "spare" readers.