Friday, I have an appointment for a colonoscopy. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s a pain in the butt (pun intended) but it’s very important. According to the American Cancer Association, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women.
Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society’s estimates for the number of colorectal cancer cases in the United States for 2013 are:
- 102,480 new cases of colon cancer
- 40,340 new cases of rectal cancer
- the lifetime risk for developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 20 (5%). This risk is slightly higher in men than in women. A number of other factors (described in the section “Risk factors for colorectal cancer“) can also affect a person’s risk for developing colorectal cancer.
I also know I’m rather young to be having a colonoscopy, (I’m 43) but I have a strong history of colon cancer in my immediate family so I am not taking any chances. In fact, it’s my second colonoscopy. The thought of colon cancer scares the crap out of me. (I know, I know, but I couldn’t help it). Having already been through gynecological cancer twice the thought of any kind of cancer scared me. I’ve don’t have any scary symptoms of something going on, but a few that concern me so it’s better (in my opinion) to check it out and make sure everything is ok. It can take many years (as many as 10 to 15) for a polyp to develop into colorectal cancer. Regular screening can prevent many cases of colorectal cancer altogether by finding and removing certain types of polyps before they have the chance to turn into cancer. Screening can also result in finding colorectal cancer early, when it is highly curable. Considering those odds, I am going to be gulping down laxatives and spending the prep day eating jello and popsicles and catching up on my reading in the “library”.
But getting all my stuff together for the prep had me thinking. Why am I SO scared of getting cancer? Is it because when you hear “cancer” you think “dying”? Perhaps its because I’ve lost many people to cancer,and having had it twice, never want to have it again. I take these screening very serious. Why don’t I take being nearly 100 pounds overweight as serious? Let’s face it, I am Morbidly Obese. Morbid obesity is associated with a multitude of health problems, many of which increase the risk of death. More than 300,000 deaths a year are caused by obesity-related illnesses.
More than three times the number of people die each year from obesity-related illnesses than from breast cancer and colon cancer combined.
Therefore, I need to take the necessity of losing weight as serious as having cancer. Losing weight is NOT simply cosmetic, but lifesaving. The good news is that most obesity-related health problems improve, and some are even cured when you lose weight. I can lesson the chances of getting cancer simply by changing my lifestyle and losing weight.
Last week, my husband had 2 more stents implanted in his arteries. The fact that he, too, is nearly 100 pounds overweight isn’t lost on me. We’re meeting with his cardiologist for a follow up and hopefully a prescription for cardiac rehab. I’m planning my own rehab as well. I’m scheduling a physical and then I’m going to revamp my efforts to get healthy. Because getting cancer may kill me, but being obese is far more likely to kill me first.
It’s a long road, but I’m ready to get started.