Throughout my professional life, I’ve been passionate about everyone getting the cancer screenings they need. And I’ve done a good job of getting myself screened how and when American Cancer Society says that I should. But when I got to 50, the age when you should get screened for colorectal cancer if you are at average risk, I talked the talk, but didn’t walk the walk. I knew I was a hypocrite, but I put it off for a couple of years.
It took my colleague Colleen Ryan, LCP’s program manager for the Louisiana Colorectal Health Project, and my doctor pushing, for me to get a colonoscopy. And even after I committed, I chose a date a few months in the future. But thanks to their prodding, and a couple of friends taking the plunge right before me, I did it! Thankfully, the doctor only found a few non-precancerous polyps, and I am good to go for another 10 years.
The main reason I dragged my feet was the prep, which is not unusual. The prep and the fact that someone will look up your colon, makes for what we call the “ick factor.” Many people avoid getting scoped for this reason, as well as some others I didn’t have to deal with, like no time off from work or fear of not being able to pay for follow-up care. I had also done the prep before for a surgery about 10 years ago, so I knew how it went. The newer prep method was supposed to better, and it wasn’t that bad for some of my friends, but I still didn’t like it. Most people don’t like the large amount of liquid you have to drink, but what I didn’t like was the actual cleaning out of the colon. (Enough said.)
So, yes, the ick factor is real. But so is colon cancer. And it’s much worse. I want to thank all those people who pushed me to get a colonoscopy. And now, I am paying it forward, and am prodding you to get screened at 50. If you need some support, give me a call.
- Dr. Randi Kaufman, LCP Assistant Director, LSU School of Public Health Assistant Professor