This year I am celebrating Father’s Day simply by celebrating the fact my father is still here. On Sunday, we won’t be going to brunch, or lunch, or dinner — because I have to fast all day in preparation for my first colonoscopy on Monday.
In general, I am a healthy 30-year-old female. I exercise six or seven days a week, including being a competitive runner. I eat pretty healthy — I like vegetables, I like oatmeal, I like flax. I do a lot of things to take care of myself. This is one of them, although it’s a lot less fun than making smoothies for breakfast.
In the spring of 2005, my dad went in to have a hernia looked at, or so we thought. It didn’t take long for them to discover a number of polyps in his colon.
This led to a very memorable time during which Dad needed to drink radioactive milkshakes so they could get him into the scanner, but he was still drugged up from the colonoscopy and kept asking us why he had to drink a milkshake. I think we repeated, “You have cancer” about 50 times. They did the scan that day, and made plans for chemo and radiation pretty much immediately.
In addition to chemo and radiation, they removed Dad’s colon and part of his large intestine. He later had a surgery to have a “J-pouch” put in, which is essentially a makeshift colon made out of part of your intestine. Works like a charm, all things considered.
When he was diagnosed, my dad was 40. We are very lucky that 10 years later, he’s fine. You would never know. But, oncologists recommend that children of people with colon cancer have their first colonoscopy 10 years prior to their parent’s age at diagnosis. I turned 30 in December, and hadn’t given it much thought until April, after my grandfather was facing his second fight with cancer. At the recommendation of my primary care physician, I had a consultation with a gastroenterologist. She too, recommended I move forward with the colonoscopy, just to be safe. They had done a test on my dad and did not think that his form of cancer was genetic. But, for a pretty straightforward procedure, why wonder?
We had my procedure scheduled, but just a few days after I met with my gastroenterologist, she suddenly passed away. It was a shocking turn of events. And reminded me of my own mortality, and why I was getting this colonoscopy in the first place. My appointment was rescheduled for this Monday at 12:30 p.m.
So, on Father’s Day, I will be on a liquid diet. All I can have all day is Jell-O and broth, and lots of liquids. The doctors office told me I couldn’t drink as much Crystal light as I want. Thank goodness. (I don’t mean that, that stuff is disgusting.) And Sunday night will be a fun-filled evening consisting of Miralax mixed with Gatorade. I will raise a glass and toast to my dad’s cancer-free status.
Check back for updates on Sunday and Monday. I’m going to document the experience so that others who should get checked will hopefully be encouraged to do so.