Life throws a lot of curve balls. Flat tires, leaky roofs, and layoffs don't have anything on walking out of your doctor's office with the words, "You have colon cancer," still ringing in your ears.
Leading up to the culmination of this final visit, the one where your doctor was supposed to tell you that he reviewed all of your tests and you're good to go for another 10 years, you've already played every potential scenario out in your mind like a movie stuck on replay. You don't even bother telling your spouse that the follow up doctor's appointment is today, because you know everything will be fine and don't want to waste her time or concern.
Start here, with links to articles that explain how your cancer diagnosis was determined:
"What am I going to tell my wife?" says one many in his early 50's. "I don't have time for chemotherapy! Who will care for my children?" states a young mother in clear distress. Fact is – colon cancer is not a disease that targets only the elderly – anyone could leave the doctor's office someday with similar shock, concerns and questions. No one is immune; the best we can hope for is to reduce our risk of the disease through healthy diet and lifestyle choices. No one, not even the highest-paid oncologist in the nation, will be able to explain why you, a strict vegan who works out five days weekly and has never touched tobacco, has colon cancer but your 92-year-old obese grandfather who drinks a pint of whiskey daily does not.
It is Not a Death Sentence
Not one to sugar-coat things, I'll put this right out there: You are going to feel myriad emotions after receiving a diagnosis of colon cancer. According to famous theorists, you may start to suffer the stages of grief, with the emotions of anger and disbelief at the forefront of your mind. "How did this happen to me?" and "Why did this happen to me!" are normal, healthy reactions. Taking that one step further, there is no right or wrong emotion to have – what you're feeling, be it grief, remorse, or even anger – is what you need to feel right now.
Here's a silver lining: This is by far the best century yet to get a diagnosis of colon cancer. Technological advances have made most types treatable, assuming that it is caught early (even if it's not, you still have a fighting chance). Colonoscopies can remove small, cancerous polyps and bowel surgeries can cut out larger portions of diseased intestine. Radiation and oncology can kill the rapidly spreading cancer cells and a large medical team can help you overcome symptoms, nutrition deficiencies and even emotional grief as you wage your war against cancer.
Obviously, if you're reading this, you have moved beyond anger, denial or whatever emotion was gripping you upon being diagnosed (although anger may still be simmering on the back burners) and are doing your research to arm yourself with knowledge. Good for you -- keep up the fight. Spread the word about colon cancer so that people will take screening seriously. Many warriors in the fight against colon cancer have found that helping others through their earliest stages of grief was cathartic.
National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Grief , Bereavement and Coping with Loss. Accessed online February 22, 2013.
American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Cancer Survivors Network. Accessed February 13, 2013.