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Our dear friend who lost his daughter to colon cancer

 
 
Reply Sun 3 Jan, 2016 12:13 am
On New Years Day one of our dearest friends lost his daughter to colon cancer. She was 43 years old, has a wonderful husband and two sweet girls, 8 and 5 years of age. Around Thanksgiving in 2011 I called him to catch up, his voice told me something was wrong. I asked, 'did I call at a bad time?" he said his daughter Heather just called to tell him she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. All I could say was, take care of your family, we will talk later.

Since her diagnosis, Heather endured radiation, chemotherapy, and numerous
surgeries and invasive procedures to hopefully eradicate the cancer. My friend would take her to Hopkins as well as Sloan Kettering for all the treatments and various procedures. It was punishing, she might be at Hopkins then sent to Sloan Kettering immediately by Amtrack for additional tests, probes, and treatments. For those who are not familiar, Hopkins is in Baltimore, Maryland and Sloan Kettering is in New York.

She lost her battle on New Years Day right before 9 PM. Her family and tribe are bereft. On Tuesday her wake will begin. I've been to too many funerals for children. I ache for the parents, and for this wake, I don't know how I can comfort my friend and his wife, the husband, the children and her siblings. I have no right to be devastated, but thats how my husband and I feel.

Please wish me good luck and good fortune to offer some comfort to my friends who are suffering.

I'll provide some details on the heath question later. I've lost too many good friends to colon cancer that was not detected because the docs didn't want to order a colonscopy because the individual was not yet 50 0r older. Please insist when you think something is wrong. You know your body, insist on proper care.
 
View best answer, chosen by glitterbag
glitterbag
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Jan, 2016 12:17 am
@glitterbag,
Please don't ask why her father accompanied Heather on so many treatment. Her husband was fired from his last job for taking too much time from work to help his wife. He did find a job with McCormick's after 5 months unemployed.
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Jan, 2016 01:42 am
@glitterbag,
I am sorry to hear of your friend's suffering from this cruel disease. chai2 and I have both started threads on the importance of regular screening. But onset at such an early age is uncommon and not likely to appear on one's health radar.

Again, condolences.
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rosborne979
 
  3  
Reply Sun 3 Jan, 2016 06:21 am
@glitterbag,
My daughter's mom died of colon cancer in 2012. She was 45 years old and was diagnosed with stage 4 in 2010 shortly after our daughter was born. So the situation you describe seems very familiar to me. My condolences to the family.
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Jan, 2016 07:17 am
I'm so sorry to read this. Oy. Words fail.
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Lordyaswas
  Selected Answer
 
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Reply Sun 3 Jan, 2016 09:22 am
@glitterbag,
I'm sorry to hear this, gb.

Back in the day, just after my 40th birthday, I underwent the first of several major operations on my colon, one of which was particularly touch and go (so I am told.....I was unconcious at the time), so this is a case "there but the grace of god" as far as I am concerned.

I have since found out that my Grandad ( father's father) died aged 43 with exactly the same condition.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Jan, 2016 09:38 am
My sympathy to you re dealing with helping your friend, Glitter, a tough time for parents and husband and friends.

I worked in a tilt up building in the Marina del Rey area of Los Angeles for several years, having eventually my own design business there. Over the years I got to be conversation friends with the building owner, whose office was next door to mine. He was somewhere around mid 40's, and told me several members of his family had colon cancer occur, so was tested every year, or I think I remember it was every year. Didn't like it but thought better to be safe than sorry.

One of my girlfriend group was diagnosed with it some time around when she was in her late 40's or early 50's, a big surprise for all of us pals but especially for her and her husband and kids. She's fine now, long time later. Another cautionary tale, re going to the doc with symptoms. She has been a nurse practitioner, so was smart re getting seen.
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edgarblythe
 
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Reply Sun 3 Jan, 2016 12:41 pm
I lost a brother to colon cancer a few years ago. It is a painful topic for me to read about.
neologist
 
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Reply Sun 3 Jan, 2016 12:56 pm
@edgarblythe,
edgarblythe wrote:
I lost a brother to colon cancer a few years ago. It is a painful topic for me to read about.
As did I. His death inspired my speedy colonoscopy. They found nasty polyps. So, in a way, my brother saved my life. Otherwise, I would have found reasons to postpone what is an uncomfortable procedure.

Now, on reading the last few posts in this thread, I am troubled by how many have found themselves stage 4 at such a young age. Obviously, age 55 is far too old to begin screening. The penalty for delay is so severe.
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glitterbag
 
  3  
Reply Sat 9 Jan, 2016 02:29 am
When I first posted this thread, I was beside myself. After that I just couldn't write anything else. We went to the wake, and the funeral home was packed,
over 300 people in total passed thru the 2 viewings to comfort Heathers parents her husband and children. He told me that about 250 attended the funeral mass. I couldn't muster up the courage to attend the funeral, I dreaded what might happen and I was terrified I would be a sobbing mess.

I know Jerry so well that I can read him like a book, and as we talked I saw the despair and sadness in his eyes., as well as how he struggled to remain composed. He spoke to me about the last few hours Heather was alive, he said she fought with every ounce of strength she could find.

As tragic as this is, Heather's family are urging everyone under 50 to have a blood occult test. It's not invasive,it's cheap and your doctor should be testing you every year. The test can detect blood in the stool way before symptoms become dire. Its quick, easy and painless. If tiny traces of blood are detected, insist that your doctor do another, and if they still find blood, have the doc order a colonoscopy. There might be tiny pockets that are suspicious but during that procedure they can remove it and send it to the lab. Early detection means survival. Do it for your family and friends and of course yourself.

Alright, my sermon is over. Please be well.

glitterbag
 
  1  
Reply Sat 9 Jan, 2016 10:24 am
@glitterbag,
In the first posting I mentioned Heathers tribe, tribe was what she called her support team. She was a warrior and she fought her cancer.
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neologist
 
  1  
Reply Sat 9 Jan, 2016 01:30 pm
@glitterbag,
Excellent advice.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 9 Jan, 2016 07:57 pm
@glitterbag,
I agree with the occult blood test, easy peasy and very useful. I'm an old lab tech, now quite long ago, but it is still, far as I've read, a well regarded thing to do.

One matter I haven't followed up on is that there is an xray version of colonoscopy, said, when I read about it, now maybe six or more years ago, to be better at seeing the whole colon than routine colonoscopies. That was back when I read the New York Times, likely where I read that. Medicare wouldn't then pay for it, which is prohibitive for a bunch of us.

Since I haven't seen news about that since, I'm not pushing it, just still interested.
Oh, and yes, you get to drink the same glop.
glitterbag
 
  1  
Reply Sat 9 Jan, 2016 10:55 pm
@ossobuco,
You're right, I think its called a virtual colonoscopy. Since you have to drink a gallon of salty crap and spend about 8 hours on the john before the test, I'd just as soon have the 20 ft tube roaming around my insides. Also, if they find something via the virtual test, they can't take samples, they still have to use the dreaded device to remove he suspicious growths.

I had my first colonoscopy when I was about 31, as well as an upper endoscopic. It turned out that I had erosive gastritis and was bleeding into the colon. When fresh blood hits the colon your body feels like it was hit by a boulder. Treatment was easy, but I lost so much blood before they figured out what the problem was I was seriously anemic. I decided I didn't want donated blood, so they kept me on an IV and iron until I was sound enough to go home.

As frightening as the procedure might sound, it is not painful and not even uncomfortable. I hate the prep, but the procedure is a piece of cake. These days
most people are sedated and they next time they wake, they are in the recovery area. Just schedule one and make sure you are healthy.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 9 Jan, 2016 11:31 pm
@glitterbag,
what I remember about the xray one was that it picked up more stuff on the right.

Obviously, I haven't read any later pros or cons, and saying don't trust me is obvious. I do wonder what happened about that.
glitterbag
 
  1  
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2016 12:50 pm
@ossobuco,
I remember that as well, it apparently could find even the tiniest thing. I think the whole procedure is sometimes called a body scan. It can detect blockages and narrowing of the arteries much more precise than current methods.

I don't think insurance will pay for the scan. But I know the test is offered at a few independent sites. Now I'm curious, I'll what I can find.
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