Notes on My Colon Cancer

Last modified on October 22, 2020

The large robotic seems to be to be like esteem a WED Treadwell, my celebrated robotic of your complete Megastar Wars droids. I admit, I change into as quickly as unnerved that it could obtain out about pure, esteem a Sentinel from The Matrix, with wriggling Dr. Octopus fingers and pinchy pincers that pinch. But I'm calmed by the robotic's EVE-esteem exterior.

The room is sterile. A dozen masked, gloved attendants in blue buzz. I consider I'm an astronaut about to step into the rocketship tablet.

Excluding I'll perchance perchance perchance perchance not be going anyplace on this specific hurry, except one factor goes very, very dangerous. If reality be instructed, I've already been requested time and again by a type of staffers to advise what I'm awaiting to occur on this room over the following couple of hours:

"I'm proper right here to clutch my sigmoid colon by way of robotic surgical remedy because of the cancerous tumor inside."

I'm 34 years frail. Or not it's October 12th, 2020. Five weeks in the past I change into as quickly as acknowledged with colon most cancers.

Stool, bloody stool

I've repeatedly been a standing wiper. Not apparent fully why. I'll should comprise as quickly as, by likelihood, touched a load of poo all through a seated wipe. That development of factor can alternate an specific particular person.

This charming narrative does ingredient into our narrative, because it talent I've repeatedly had a implausible honest acceptable sense for my poo. Consistency, high quality, and coloration, each within the bowl and on the TP. Did , there's even a seven-stage scientific classification system to your poo, often called the Bristol stool scale?!

Bristol stool scale

I first seen blood two or three years in the past. On a month-to-month or so cadence, I'd wipe and scrutinize a reddish tinge. Not realizing crimson, further esteem muddy-crimson. Poopy-crimson. On the origin, I realizing miniature of it. Merely a minor curiousity. It completely didn't occur at any time when. Restful, I decided to confirm off the Blood in stool subject on the classes at my annual bodily with my main care doctor that yr.

A fast aside on the phrase "your main care doctor." Love in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the ultimate doctor I in precise reality thought of "my doctor" change into as quickly as my pediatrician. Since "turning into an grownup", I've lived in three cities in two worldwide areas, which talent that that've most incessantly had no realizing who my main care doctor is or change into as quickly as, solely that I'd should obtain one to provide me a referral to acquire this wart on my foot eliminated.


Anyway, this season's Dr. Who instructed me to not hazard concerning the blood. "Or not it's doubtlessly hemorrhoids."

WTF is a hemorrhoid? I puzzled to myself as I mentioned to him, "Sounds honest acceptable." Googled it after, and I found that or not it's a vein that pokes out a miniature in your butt and does not in precise reality have to be poking out a miniature, so it bleeds. Appears to be like esteem a factor that may perchance perchance occur, so I further or a lot much less returned to most incessantly scheduled programming and true handled the occasional poopy-crimson wipe. This doc moreover mentioned I doubtlessly create not should attain help for a bodily for numerous years, that annual physicals are a narrative, dry land in a water world.

Snappily-forward to 2020. The complete lot sucks. And the bloody wipes are making a resurgence. As a end result of, in reality, they're. About 4 months in the past I seen that my first poop of the day (I in total drag 2x) would comprise this crimson-crimson scamper embedded in it, esteem a racing stripe from hell. And it could occur virtually with out fail each single morning. That true didn't seem acceptable, or not it's miles not related what Medical docs of Physicals Past instructed me. And then one morning I felt esteem I had actual blood dripping from my butt.

Now I comprise in concepts myself to be a largely wholesome particular person. I be happy quite efficiently (though I benefit from the occasional sourdough loaf and hazy IPA), I bustle and bike and hike most incessantly, I ran an IRONMAN in 2016 and a few ultramarathons since. I moreover create not esteem being sick (who does?). But, esteem with most points in my existence, I have to be "honest acceptable" at efficiently being. An supreme dental appointment for me would drag one factor esteem this, "Wow, Charlie, these are the straightest, whitest tooth we have ever considered. We may perchance perchance equal to you to achieve help in and be the mannequin for our Instagram adverts and moreover be our 3D tooth mannequin for dentures. Congratulations. Here is two free toothbrushes. You moreover by no means should floss as quickly as extra."

The relaxation that deviates from that supreme makes me squirm and I produce choose I'm ready to restore one factor else. For what or not it's price I unruffled consider that, if I ever attain upon a blue flower on a mountain-top, I'm solely numerous months of mystical coaching removed from turning into Batman. I in precise reality comprise already obtained the cape (or not it's in precise reality a Harry Potter gown, nonetheless, howdy, I'm scrappy).

On the equivalent time, I counterweight this with a comfortable contact of hypochondria. I'm going to obtain the poison oak within the mistletoe, with the blueprint to command. In this case it change into as quickly as a gift. I googled as quickly as extra for stool, bloody stool and the dreaded colon most cancers got here help. Closing time, I averted my eyes from these search outcomes. However the bloody racing stripes weren't going away. I wanted to acquire myself checked out.

Then I remembered an electronic mail from work: I change into as quickly as eligible for a OneMedical membership. I knew there change into as quickly as hype about OneMedical, completely I've considered the billboards, nonetheless I unruffled wasn't precisely apparent what they comprise been all about. It had been numerous years since my closing bodily, as , so I change into as quickly as major-care-much much less, with a bloody converse on my fingers. I downloaded the OneMedical app, uploaded a photograph of my insurance coverage card, beep-boop, and I've obtained an appointment with a latest doc in numerous days in a single in all their shut by clinics. Already, I cherished the journey - I'm ready to additionally textual screech materials my questions any time (stumble on foot wart above). I'd describe OneMedical as a group of clinics with an app for scheduling appointments and texting with a doc. Certain, ZocDoc kinda does the scheduling factor, nonetheless Zocdoc feels equal to it's seemingly you will perchance perchance perchance perchance even be sifting by way of the classifieds. Gimme some non-user-generated-scores-primarily primarily based curation, please.

So, I met with the doc, cherished him masses, mentioned my bloody poops, and sheepishly requested if he'd be my modern main care. He agreed, and he moreover referred me to UCSF for a colonoscopy. Certain, I'm younger, and or not it's doubtlessly hemorrhoids, we agreed, nonetheless or not it's miles the best method to comprise apparent.

After some jiggling about with the referral documentation, we not directly procure the colonoscopy scheduled for numerous weeks shortly Sept ninth.

Then, on August 28th, Chadwick Boseman died of issues from colon most cancers.

I wasn't freaked out. Ok, sure, I change into as quickly as very freaked out.

Colonoscopies should not rotten

What's a colonoscopy? Or not it's a surgical path of the set the doctor goes your complete contrivance up your butt to obtain out about what goes on on in there. You additionally may perchance be totally knocked out, so you're feeling nothing. The one factor or not it's needed to provide is what we within the enterprise esteem to call "bowel prep."

Enable me to advise bowel prep: the day sooner than the trail of, it's seemingly you will perchance perchance poop your ever-residing guts out for numerous hours except you might be spruce-as-a-whistle, stem to stern. They'll offer you a prescription for a immense jug of clear laxatives that it's seemingly you will perchance perchance drink each 15 minutes or so for numerous hours. In as of late's bog-paper hoarding financial system, I'd comprise apparent that you just simply are stocked up, as a result of this will get messy.

Varied then the laxatives, it's seemingly you will perchance perchance perchance perchance even be allowed to drink clear liquids - which is complicated since it's seemingly you will perchance perchance be able to get pleasure from such clear liquids as dim espresso, Gatorade, broth, even inexperienced jello.

But that is it. Easy. I watched Stranger Issues season Three as quickly as extra all through my bowel prep day. May perchance properly not comprise been the best want, as I intermittently needed to give up Netflix to contribute my comprise liquified tag of the Thoughts-Flayer, nonetheless it obtained the job accomplished, and I cried my contrivance via Dustin and Suzie's hymn to childhood, as quickly as extra, as anticipated.

Ok, subsequent, I wakened on September ninth. My appointment is round 2 PM. Regular day, acceptable?


A unusual, apocalyptic orange-crimson sky looms over the Bay Plot. Here is what or not it's needed to know.
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— San Francisco Story (@sfchronicle) September 9, 2020


I possess to inch over to the U.S. Parnassus constructing within the creepy Mars firelight, imagining I'm the ultimate man on Earth (and hoping I create not step on my learning glasses). Carly makes a realizing to elevate me up in numerous hours in our automotive.

As anticipated, the trail of change into as quickly as painless. My solely little bit of extra colonoscopy recommendation proper right here is to ALWAYS elevate a e guide with you, to each single medical appointment you comprise, as a result of there's repeatedly going to be some development of lengthen or ready room.

An hour or so later, I wakened feeling the feels of that post-anesthesia giddiness. Excluding nobody else change into as quickly as happy. Carly change into as quickly as within the room, a shock to me. And my doctor appeared fairly excessive.

As properly to 2 dinky polyps (which she eliminated), my colonoscopy surgeon stumbled on a tumor in my sigmoid colon. At this degree, I create not know a sigmoid colon from a semi-colon, nonetheless I knew it wasn't honest acceptable information. Scoot 2020!

Despite the chances (my early life, my efficiently being), I now had most cancers. Smartly, I doubtlessly had it for awhile, nonetheless we true stumbled on out I had it.

My doc mentioned I'd should meet with UCSF's colorectal surgical remedy employees, and I'd moreover should procure CT scans ("cat scans") to obtain out about if the most cancers had unfold anyplace else in my physique.

And so started one among the worst weeks of our lives.

A fast household historical past

Let's focus on concerning the percentages for a second.


We comprise already mentioned my filled with life, proto-Batman diploma of efficiently being. And the contrivance I'm a recent-faced, occasionally-bearded, 34 yr frail with the middle of a kid and the ability of a chimpanzee (no, that is a humanzee).

Speaking of sad genetics, it seems that I in precise reality comprise some household historical past of colon most cancers.

Here is the inside track: my pops (that is cool focus on for Dad) has had benign (non-cancerous) polyps in his previous colonoscopies. What's a poylp? Or not it's a miniature reveal thingy in your colon that can also honest evolve correct right into a tumor. Merely esteem how a Charmander turns correct right into a Charmeleon, polyps can develop better and further excessive with further damaging vitality. Polyps are in total true snipped out all through your colonoscopy and despatched off for pathology (aka to obtain out about within the occasion that they've most cancers in them). Most produce not. Here's the case with my dad's polyp journey. Even although none of his comprise been cancerous, he unruffled must move in for colonoscopies further most incessantly than people who create not comprise polyps.

My comprise tumor started as a lowly polyp, possible some ten years in the past. We create not know precisely. But if I'd had a colonoscopy ten years in the past, or 5 years in the past, they will comprise considered it and snipped it out and also you would not be learning this.

In case you drag extra up the Harrington tree, it's seemingly you will perchance perchance be taught that my dad's aunt (my father's mom's sister) died of colon most cancers in her early 60s. And his different aunt (equivalent aspect, equivalent household) died of colon most cancers in her 80s. Two factoids that I had no realizing about except I requested my folks for his or her succor filling out one among the numerous UCSF most cancers historical past surveys. Additionally, on my mom's aspect, my grandfather's mom (my gargantuan-grandmother, who I by no means met) doubtlessly had colon most cancers.

So, colon most cancers is bouncing round in my household tree. But neither of my folks comprise it, and none of my grandparents had it, which I verbalize is good. That mentioned, I found that my grandparents did comprise different types of cancers.

Getting complicated, acceptable? I'm ready to not stress this ample: Learn your loved ones's medical historical past and write it down in a degree to in your cellular phone. You are going to be requested for this information 10,000 instances sooner than each single appointment. But, further importantly, your loved ones historical past can also moreover be a sign to you and your docs whether or not are "increased-possibility" for particular stipulations.

I true didn't discover out about any of this. I knew there comprise been some coronary heart assaults in there, nonetheless not in precise reality about any of the most cancers stuff. Ideally, every one may perchance be given some development of household historical past painting once they're born or once they flip 18 or once they procure their first Nintendo.

But that is true it. You create not procure efficiently being information robotically. There isn't any one, different than you, to comprise your medical efficiently being narrative. It's most life like to change into your comprise efficiently being suggest. Spoiler alert, nonetheless that's the no 1 lesson I found all through this whole most cancers journey. Smartly being literacy is true as vital as financial literary or literacy literacy.

There are instruments to succor, and I'm unruffled digging into them now. I'm worthy further infected now by the Apple Smartly being stuff on iOS. I'm hoping it could grow to be some development of personal, fetch repository for my efficiently being information that I elevate with me. Shall we embrace, how numerous you, expensive readers, know your blood kind? There is all types of miniature info-nuggets that it's seemingly you will perchance perchance be prepared to find down NOW to pay-it-forward for FUTURE you. Plot off, ain't no particular person else gonna. Or not it's esteem a scavenger hunt. Ok, ample proselytizing, dude.

Stage-realizing limbo

Relieve to our narrative, we have true found that I in precise reality comprise a cancerous tumor up my butt and we have moreover stuffed out numerous upsetting household historical past evaluations. Here's the set UCSF kicks it into extreme instruments (and, my goodness, produce I esteem UCSF? Yes, sure I produce. They are fully, amazingly comely, competent, and existence-changing!).

I'm now initiating to acquire booked for all types of appointments, initiating with these beforehand talked about: (1) CT scans of my stomach and chest and (2) then the search the recommendation of with the colorectal surgeon.

As a end result of, as I later found from my colorectal surgeon (who's the best!), when colon most cancers spreads, it in total does the evolution factor from cancerous polyp (Stage 1) into tumor (Stage 2). After that, it could shatter by way of the wall of the colon into the shut by lymph nodes (Stage 3). Finally, it turns into (Stage 4) if it spreads to different organs, the mandatory in total being the liver and the lungs. Not decrease than, that's how I understand the numerous ranges. I'm apparent I'm lacking some technical dinky print and nuance. When learning about Chadwick Boseman, it's seemingly you will perchance perchance be taught that he change into as quickly as firstly acknowledged with Stage Three colon most cancers in 2016, which not directly change into Stage 4. In sum, you would like your stage to be as miniature as that it's seemingly you will perchance perchance be able to assume.

At this degree, pre-CT scan, Carly and I in precise reality have no realizing what stage I'm at. Smartly, we produce know that I'm someplace from 2 - 4. These appointments are going to succor us understand the set I'm at. Particularly, the CT scans will sigh us if I'm Stage Four or not.

Carly and I are in a daze for numerous of the subsequent week. And so are our folks and our siblings. I in reality cannot keep in mind what number of buddies we instructed at this degree, I do know numerous, nonetheless not that many. I didn't know what to relate or really feel.

Worthy esteem the South Park lament "The Simpsons did it!", there's in total an xkcd for no matter it's seemingly you will perchance perchance perchance perchance even be feeling or considering:


As a wannabe stoic, I allow my detrimental visualization to bustle rampant. I'm considering of the chance that I've obtained solely numerous years (months?) left to stay.

My CT scans are scheduled for Thursday afternoon and the assembly with the surgeon is Friday morning. Between then and now, we have the contaminated Info superhighway to provide tainted searches and we have the two-web screech abstract printout of my colonoscopy, replete with some homely pictures of the tumor. The tumor seems to be to be like esteem a hideous between a tadpole and an eyeball (two points that I'd in total esteem). I create not esteem this painting, in any admire, nonetheless the two-web screech abstract by some talent retains touring round our house, and regardless of the set I obtain out about, I stumble on the pink tadpole inquire of staring help at me, and I shock, "Are you my dying sentence?"

The sound of silence

On Thursday, Carly and I inch over to the U.S. CT scanning whisper. Or not it's a miniature bit a lot much less hostile to human existence outdoors as of late, in order that's good. After checking in with the doorway desk, I fast drag by way of the mandatory ready room into the second ready room. There is repeatedly a second ready room.

Or not it's proper right here I understand that the sound of a severe efficiently being converse is with out warning opening and shutting clinic doorways. I scribble this pithy witicism into the help quilt of my paperback replica of Scoot together with the tear and wait my flip with the CT machine. I'm given two bottles of "incompatibility" supplied by reknowned-drink-maker Regular Electric to drink. These iodine cocktails will succor the machine stumble on my inside stuff. They model equal to it's seemingly you will perchance perchance perchance perchance even be consuming printer ink. They should not that rotten in any admire. Everyone else in proper right here is as a minimum fifty years frail. I possess to provide a 5 minute wall-sit to degree my vigor. Finally, I'm often called help to the machine.

The CT machine seems to be to be like esteem a coldsleep chamber crossed with a Weyland Company interdimensional portal. Or not it's over in decrease than a minute.

Opinion of assault

The scans are accomplished and now or not it's as much as the radiologist to learn them. I'm apparent some orderly TensorFlow or PyTorch deep learning laptop imaginative and prescient mannequin can also succor proper right here, nonetheless I create not comprise procure entry to to the dataset.

The following morning we energy over to the U.S. Center for Colorectal Surgical remedy. Or not it's within the fairly ghost city of the elevated Rush Center-Mission Bay whisper. I obtain out about up on the photo voltaic sooner than heading in, considering, "The following time I stumble on you, ball of fuel burning billions of miles away (quoth Pumbaa), we'll know the CT outcomes and we'll know the realizing."

After I stumble on the photo voltaic as quickly as extra, we produce.

The CT scans comprise been spruce. There isn't any sign that the most cancers unfold to different organs, ruling out Stage 4. Here's the best information ever.

The second solely information we hear is that the tumor is in a comparatively comely set for surgical remedy. After an impromptu rectal examination that morning (howdy!) to comprise apparent there change into as quickly as no most cancers within the rectum, my surgeon presents us an ove

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