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WARNING SIGNS IGNORED – Part 1: My story, a Colorectal Cancer Survivor’s Journey

19 Dec

TAKE ACTION against colon cancer … early detection can SAVE a life!

Listen to your body it may be giving you warning signs with changes and symptoms that weren’t there before.

I know there is someone reading this or someone in your life who may have some of these embarrassing symptoms. You’re not alone. I know your pain. This is very important so please scoot in closer and pay attention!

As I sit here trying to reflect on the most impactful way to get my message across I realize that it is not an easy task to do with words alone. It’s my prayer that God will bring this message to someone in need.

Reflecting back now 23 years ago times were different. I wasn’t aware of organizations or advocates that were spreading the message about Colon-Rectum Cancer (CRC).  I had no one at that time to seek advice from.

Unfortunately the signs were there but they were ignored or overlooked not wanting to give into every little condition my body produced. Frankly women deal with symptoms and aches and pains that are often nothing so like many other things I thought this would pass.  We all say if I could go back in time I would do it differently. Well unfortunately I can’t go back that’s why I want to help others.

  1. TOO EMBARRESED– Constipation, is your body telling you something?

One of the first signs ignored was irregular bowel movements. I was a hair stylist by profession working long hours on my feet all day. And in my profession time = commission so I know that I often ignored the urge to go. Like many, I was too busy and embarrassed to see a doctor about constipation. Anyway, I thought this was something a lot of people dealt with.

Its true many people do have constipation at times. You become irregular, bloated, bowel movements become infrequent and the stool becomes harder and smaller. If it is on occasion and for a short period of time it is likely not significant but if it is ongoing your body is trying to tell you something and you should get to a doctor. [i]

  • Are you drinking enough water?  It acts as a softener for the stool helping it to pass. Our bodies need it to stay hydrated, protect our joints and organs.[ii] The amount we need depends on how much you eat, exercise, climate conditions, bowel, weight and height.  About 8-11 glasses for women and 8-15 cups for men according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The rest of the liquid intake comes from our food.
  • What’s your diet saying? I know you’re thinking I have an iron stomach this doesn’t apply. I too had an iron stomach growing up and ate almost anything. I love food and still do to this day. But if you’re eating a lot of white flower (ice cream, pasta, rice, cheese bread, processed foods: chips, cookies, crackers) you may be doing more harm then you realize? You can do it by making a few small changes and eating more fiber (fruits, vegetables, whole grains) it gives your stool the consistency it needs to help keep you regular. About 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil daily can protect you from bowel disease.[iii] The current suggestions are about 20 grams of dietary fiber per day. Another super food you can eat is yogurt (aka Lactobacillus). Yogurt has been noted to decrease growth of tumor cells of the GI tract and improve immunity according to CTCA[i]. Limit the amount of red meats you’re eating and alcohol intake. I know bummer but everything in moderation. If we over eat we’re taxing our bodies and reducing years from our life. And please don’t smoke!
    Did you know?
    Fiber and a healthy diet on a regular schedule daily will play a big role in reducing conditions, namely constipation but also things like heart disease, diabetes, diverticular disease. However, there is still no direct proof indicating fiber will prevent colon cancer.[iv]
  • Are you giving yourself enough of time? Are you always in a rush and holding it in because your too busy or you’re out and don’t want to go in public? I know we’ve all avoided public bathrooms but did you know ignoring the urge to go can result in the following:
    • More constipation
    • Hemorrhoids are often a result of constipation, poor diet, lack of exercise and/or hormonal changes
    • Avoid straining it can lead to fishers. Not worth it!
  • Get your bodies moving! Exercise is great for your overall health and psyche. It’s also important for good digestion. Only 20-30 minutes a day. Take a walk; jump on your bicycle; dance (do the tarantella); jump rope; skip whatever it is just do it!
  • What medications or OTC’s are you taking? Did you know that a number of prescription drugs and over the counter (OTC) medications can cause constipation? If you are on medications or OTC’s please talk to your doctor and ask if any may be causing constipation.

2.       TOO SCARED TO GO – What about the color of your stool?
If I only knew signs of irregularity like bright red spots or dark “tarry” stools was a sign of blood in the stool. I didn’t notice the problem until I was literally bleeding with each bowel movement. This went on for quite some time and I was too embarrassed and too scared to go to a doctor. This is not ok. I urge you if you see red spots or dark tarry stool go to a doctor don’t wait for blood.

3.       TOO SCARED NOT TO GO! – The Pain was so severe like a piercing knife through my spine I knew something was wrong.
Persistent abdominal pain is another sign that something may be wrong and often a precursor for colon cancer. But unfortunately by this time for me it was beyond abdominal pain. I remember it like it was yesterday during intimacy I had a shooting pain what to me felt like a knife piercing through to my spine followed by blood and lots of it. By this time I was too scared not to go see a doctor.

Early detection is everything and Colon Cancer has a very high survival rate if caught early it can be fully removed from your body. The great news as noted in this article from ezinearticles “colon cancer has become known as one of the least deadly cancers”[ii] when caught early on.  So what can you do?

TAKE ACTION, ask your primary care doctor for a Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)[v] which can detect or prevent cancer long before the symptoms occur. Make your health a number one priority. You’re worth it and your family and friends are worth it!

If you are age 50 and older the prevent cancer foundation recommends the following screening[iii]:

  • Colonoscopy: Every 10 years
  • Virtual colonoscopy: Every 5 years
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: Every 5 years
  • Double-contrast barium enema: Every 5 years

Screening intervals for tests that mainly find cancer:

  • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT): Every year
  • Fecal immunochemical test (FIT): Every year
  • Stool DNA test (sDNA): Ask your health care professional

My body had brought me to a point that doing daily activities became too difficult because of the severe pain. I urge you to please take action and control of your health. Regular screenings will greatly increase the early detection of colon polyps which can ultimately SAVE your life!

We all have a story and we can use our backgrounds and past experiences to give hope to others (1 Cor. 7:7 … each has his own gift from God, one this way, another that).  I want to encourage you to share your story put a post on this blog or on our Facebook and put a voice to your journey and maybe encourage someone to get tested early and often. Maybe save a life!

Our friends and family are a great support but if you need to talk to someone who’s been there send me an email (e-mail Dee Dee Click Here).

With luv and God’s Blessing,
Dee Dee

Important note: The information provided in Chat With Dee Dee blog is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. I am not providing medical, legal or other professional advice.


References

[i] http://www.carislifesciences.com/media/pdf/CarisDx_Constipation.pdf

[ii] http://nutrition.about.com/od/hydrationwater/a/waterarticle.htm

[iii] http://health.msn.com/health-topics/digestive-health/ibd-and-crohns/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100257714

[i] http://www.cancercenter.com/after-care-services/super-foods.cfm

[iv] http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fiber-full-story/index.html

[ii] http://ezinearticles.com/?Early-Detection-Yields-High-Survival-Rate-For-Colon-Cancer-Patients&id=608448

[v] http://www.medicinenet.com/fecal_occult_blood_tests/article.htm

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Posted by on December 19, 2010 in Warning Signs Ignored Part1

 

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