I lost a dear friend to colon cancer five months ago — the same amount of time it took for her to go from diagnosis to death. It was a heartbreaking series of events that no one should ever have to endure.
I’m a busy mother of two young children, so when I noticed blood in my stool just over two weeks ago, I decided to take the opposite approach of what I would normally do (ignore it) and instead get it checked out. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States among those cancers that affect both men and women. In 2014, nearly 140,000 people were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 51,651 died of the disease.
My primary care physician was concerned about my symptom given my age (43) and my family history of the disease (my grandfather had it). She sent me to a GI specialist who ordered a colonoscopy. As I said goodbye I was handed a piece of paper with some simple instructions and told to follow them the day before my procedure so I would be “prepped” and ready to go by appointment time.
It didn’t seem too bad on paper—a clear liquid diet for a day that culminated in a stool softener/sports drink cocktail and then a trip to the doc for my colonoscopy in the morning.
Prep day started off strong. I ate some gelatin for breakfast and chicken broth for snack. And then more gelatin and chicken broth as I grew hungrier and started having trouble focusing. “Hanger” set in as I glanced at my watch—10:30am.
It was going to be a long day.
Two quarts of soup and three boxes of gelatin later, I had gotten over the hump and was doing OK. At 6pm it was time for step two of my colonoscopy prep — a glass of the sports drink mixed with an entire container of powdered laxative every 10 to 15 minutes until it was gone…all 64 ounces of it. This was not an easy task.
By the sixth glass I was pretty sure I was going to puke.
But I didn’t.