Did you know that March is colon cancer awareness month? Probably not. It's not exactly common knowledge even though it kills more than 50,000 people every year, which makes it the second leading cause of cancer related death, behind only lung cancer. In fact, it's almost the end of March, too late to be writing a colon cancer awareness month post. But I forget. Nobody reminded me. I didn't see blue (colon cancer awareness color) everywhere. There weren't commercials on the tv or radio.
But there should be. It's the second most prevalent type of cancer. I should hear so much about it, I'm sick by the end of March.
Ok, so what? Why do you care?
Valid question. I have a good answer. 10 years ago, my 41 year old mother was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer.
For those who don't know, Cancer has 4 stages. Stage 4 is the worst. There is no best when the word "cancer" is involved, but you have a pretty good chance with stage 1 and not much if it's stage 4. Still, you never know if cancer is gonna be a tornado -tearing down things down it's unpredictable but narrow path - or a tsunami -devastating everything, quickly and unexpectedly.
Actually I don't know if that's true. I'm not an oncologist but it seems to me that, regardless of the diagnosis, cancer is unpredictable.
I'm going around the world to tell a simple but emotional story.
10 years ago, with irony befitting a book or movie, my mother was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in the middle of colon cancer awareness month. She's been in remission for I guess 9 years now which is amazing. My mother is a fighter. She's strong. Maybe because she's strong or because she had so much to live for or because that's what you do when you're attacked. I don't know. To be truthful, I don't remember it well. I remember staying with a family friend the day my mom had half of her colon removed. I remember all the food people sent to help take care of us. I remember the metallic smell of her breath most vividly of all. I still hate the smell of my hands after holding change. The smell envelopes me in overwhelming fear and sadness. But I don't really remember how I felt or what I thought or even understood.
It's also national women's history month. I've been wanting to honor the ladies that impacted me and shown me what true strength is. No one has impacted and has more strength than my mom. She showed that the most when she had no strength and fought anyway.
To all the cancer patients: keep fighting. No matter the odds. Don't go down without a fight.
To all the family members: life is hard. What you're doing is one of the hardest things to face in life. You will make it. No matter what happens you'll get past it.
To my mom: thank you. Thank you so much for beating the odds. Thank you for teaching me how to deal with illness, attending my high school graduation, giving wisdom during my first heartbreak, dealing with meltdowns, and everything else you've done in the past ten years since cancer tried to kill you. I love you.
So go get colonoscopies and honor the women who've made a positive impact on you.
Happy women's history and colon cancer awareness month.