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Why?

This is the post excerpt.

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Why? – Why was I diagnosed with colon cancer at 29 years of age?  Why am I writing this blog? At this moment I can only answer one of those two questions. I was just 29 years old when I was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer, this blog is an account of my journey with this chronic illness and the lessons I have learned along the way. I hope this blog connects with anyone who asks the question ‘why?’ when they think of cancer.

 

Diagnosis – the longest day

I told my co-worker, about the message from the doctor’s office, before leaving for the appointment. My co-worker and Boss both offered to come with me. I turned them down, they are very wonderful people. I knew I was bless and lucky to be working with them.
I drove to the medical center for the appointment. It was quite far, and I didn’t know what to expect. The office wasn’t easy to find. But I made my way to the fourth floor eventually. Signed in, and was ushered to the Dr. Office. That was where he told me the news that I half expected to hear, but never believed possible. “You have cancer, adenocarcinoma , colon cancer” Each word tore at my brain, fogging things up, and stunning me into stupidity.

He was nice when he broke the news, told me they would go after it aggressively. That was nice, but inside I felt like, I knew I was dying. He told me the next step was to get a CT Scan to see how far it had spread, and some blood work and to take some vitals. I sat in a chair, by myself. I wasn’t worried about how alone I was, of course not. The thought was Cancer, it was real, this wasn’t a dream, or some weird imagined event, like “what would I do if I had cancer.” Last night I had imagined I did, and decided to spend the rest of my days fighting terrorists in Syria. Today, in the light of reality, all I could think of was my family, friends and getting buried in a coffin.

I was also crying. I cried in this little fits, my eyes watered and I perpetually dabbed at them with my fingers. A nurse told me to follow her to get my vitals checked. Vitals were very helpful at the moment, but she was quiet and I was a zombie – no chit chat, we fit.

Afterwards, I was lead to another another nurse to make an appointment to get a CT Scan. She sat me beside her station while she got health insurance approval and called imaging centers. I actually felt bad for her, sitting beside a clearly traumatized 29 year old cancer patient, right after he gets the bad news, but I felt worse for myself. I was still dabbing at my eyes constantly, but she gave me a small smile, and had a very gentle look in her eyes. She got an appointment as soon as possible, that afternoon – downstairs. It was the first thing that made me feel, that maybe this wasn’t the very end – the end, but not the very end. Her kindness, and her doing her best to get me an appointment for the same day.

I grabbed my things and went downstairs. A knew feeling was developing a physical awareness that death was enveloped in my tissues, and I couldn’t remove it. I felt heavier, my legs dragged. I took the elevator, why not the stairs. Because, what else could happen to me. I am very superstitious. Anything can set off my superstitious quirky behavior.
I got the imaging center, it wasn’t an obvious place to find. I got my CT Scan Barium shake and began slurping away. I looked at all the people around me, were we all here for the same reason? My scan was at 3:00 pm, the time was 1:15 pm. I head to my car. I remember how snowy and cold the day was. The snow flew horizontally carried by gusts of wind. I walked into my car – Carlos. It was a friend and I needed one.

I called my brother. He was the first person I could think of to tell, and though he doesn’t know this. He is the person I trust most in all the world, and I am somewhat embarrassed and at the same time proud of that fact. I had made CT scan appointments, talked to about 4 nurses at this point, I thought I could hold it together when I talked to him. Because if I cried, he might use it against me later. “The Doctor said, that it is flipping cancer” I remember saying. I got that part out without crying, but when I told him the Dr. wanted all the family members to get checked, I choked up. Because it wasn’t just about me, they were all a part of this. That broke my heart. He was great as always, I remember I had to text him, as he didn’t pick up on the first ring. He was quiet a bit while we were on the phone, I could tell what he was thinking though – “Why him (as in Funmi – he’s not that selfish)?” I had been sick and in hospitals quiet a bit as a child, with quiet a few close life and death calls. We had this running joke about it being a miracle I was alive – and here I was again facing death’s door.

I rang off and called my Dad. He was at his in-laws place. I told him, he sounded floored – I felt bad some more. He said he would break it to my mom. I used to turn to my mom, a lot. But I haven’t of late (years). I hold her reaction to another incident over her head – it might be time to forgive – but I can’t help how I feel.

I was miserable. I had so little information to go off, adenocarcinoma just sounded so bad. I had seen that word before, in a case I was currently working on. A woman with lung cancer, non small cell, adenocarcinoma – and she was dying. I was panicked. “Do more things” my brain said so I went and had my blood drawn, it was the first non-somber experience – the nurse with the big needle which she switched out for a small needle because I have tiny veins was jovial and fun to talk to. She made me laughed. That felt good. Now what was the blood to say about my Cancer – I went and asked later – nothing. Just to make sure other things were normal. Great, it was something to do, and I felt I better get used to being prodded by needles quite a bit. There might be lots of that in the future.

Scan time – finished up my barium shake and got into the CT Scan machine, or shall I say the space ship – the machine sounded like a ships engine. It was kind of cool. There was another needle of course to get the contrast fluid into my blood. I bugged the very nice technician for some hint as to my fate. She was great – gave me a reassuring smile, that meant I probably wont be dead in the next couple of months. She also said she wakes up every day and prays that when she runs the machine she can give people get clean images. I prayed that her prayers kept getting answered – knowing your are dying sucks, and dying probably sucks worse. I was have greats amount of empathy for the world. No one should ever have to die. – Later I readopted the except you are really really old clause to that belief.

I thought about seeing my pastor. But it was too late, I think. It was almost 4 pm. I ordered some delicious food – dying people should try to enjoy the things of life. I had been leaving a pretty regret free life for last couple of years, and I was going to keep it up. My brother kept sending me texts and pics, and called several times to cheer me up. He is nice (do not say such a thing to his face, or he might punch you).

I drove to mt closest of my closest friends’ house after getting my food, i went to his job first, then his house. I found out that his girlfriend was getting surgery – wow! I hoped hers was nothing too, fingers crossed. I had no idea, I felt like a bad friend. The doctor called while I was at his house. IT HAD NOT SPREAD! The first bit of good news. I wasn’t dying.

Next Day Nerves

I met with a close friend from out of town at the local bar we went to during our college days. He is like a brother to me, and it was great seeing him, and joking and eating wings just like old times. We talked and laughed – especially about him thinking Verizon sold health insurance. I got a phone call while we were at the bar. They wanted to move the appointment up by a hour, the nurse also asked me if I wanted to bring someone to the clinic to hear the results. I reacted to that part of the message, it sounded ominous. I told my friend and he tried to tell me it was nothing, but I couldn’t shake the feeling. We kept laughing and joking and we said goodbye with a promise to let him know  what the results were. I drove back to the office, still worried.  I paced around my apartment for most of the evening.

The Beginning

A friend took me to the clinic for an endo/colonoscopy. The procedure was pretty straight forward. I was under anesthesia for all of it. I woke up and it was all over (or it was only just beginning). I was groggy from the anesthesia and that was the worst of the effects.  The physician said that it might be crohn’s disease – I didn’t like the idea of a life long illness, but it was a diagnoses, an answer to a question that has been plaguing me for months. The physician had taken some biopsies from the inflamed site in my ascending colon, and sent them off to a laboratory for a pathology analysis before he could provide an actual diagnosis. I had lunch with a friend, ice cream and played games, good happy day. On the way the clinic called and told me I could have my results by Friday, if i liked, just 2 days later. I immediately said yes i was available. – patience is a virtue, but it isn’t one of mine. All in all, good happy day…and I had the day off work.

The physically most painful thing in a colonoscopy is the needle for the anesthetic.