If you’re gonna be an idiot in this world, it helps to be lucky.
I should know.
I’m an idiot.
It was May 11, 2021, when the colonoscopy doctor told me I most likely had a touch of the colon cancer. They say one is never prepared for the shock of being told you have cancer, and this They person is spot on.
This being a respectable publication in which the owners and readers never use nor condone foul words, my initial thoughts were a series of words and phrases that sound like “duck,” and “duckity, ducking, duck,” and “Are you ducking sure?!?!?” You know, stuff you might have heard if sitting in a sports bar next to a diehard Razorback baseball fan at the end of this irregular regular season.
And then I cried. Sat there in that clumsy hospital gown and cried. My wife hugged me, and I cried some more.
On June 8, 2021, a surgeon would remove a mass from my intestine the size of a baseball. His words, not mine. In mid-July I began chemotherapy, which, for what it’s worth, is a helluva weight loss program. And hair loss. And taste loss. And time loss. It’s a lot of loss.
The lucky part is, despite the cancer being such a large mass, it was diagnosed Stage 2. It had not spread beyond the mass. It had not spread to any vital organs, and by vital, I mean all the organs I possess and prefer to remain vital.
Another lucky part is I didn’t have to complete a full round of chemo. I’m not smart enough to talk details, but the wizardry of genetic testing determined that surgery and the initial chemo round were enough.
Someone might also be wise to say you’re never prepared for being told you might have just beat a cancer that has an overall five-year survival rate of between 60% and 65%. I was not prepared when my oncologist said we could stop the chemo and begin an aggressive schedule of scans.
I cried again. My wife hugged me, and I cried some more.
The reason I was diagnosed with cancer is because, as noted earlier, I’m an idiot. I was 53 years old and never bothered to get a colonoscopy. Stupid, right? Beyond stupid, really. More like reckless with hints of selfishness, a healthy sprinkling of arrogance and a good dose of cowardice. But enough about my better traits.
I survived. So far. Not for anything I did, though. An oncologist, surgeon, small army of incredible nurses who I promised I’d never forget their names but have done so, and my amazing caretaker wife did all the heavy lifting.
All I did was try to keep a positive attitude, and did so probably 50.1% of the time.
To be sure, I am not looking for kudos. Instead of a pat on the back, hope you’ll consider a pipe up the you-know-where. It’s not really a pipe — you know that. And they send you to magic fuzzy chemical dreamland so you never know the Nikon-tipped intestine snake gets anywhere near the back door.
In other words, don’t be an idiot. If you’re 45 or older and have not had a colonoscopy, call tomorrow and get it scheduled. My tumor was probably just a polyp eight years ago. It would have easily been snipped, and I would not have suffered through three years of health problems before getting the colon cancer diagnosed, removed and chemo’d.
If you can guarantee luck is on your side, be an idiot. And if you believe luck can be guaranteed, you truly are an idiot.
Call your doctor. Now.
Michael Tilley is the president and executive editor of Talk Business & Politics. The opinions expressed are those of the author.