On my mind is the recent death of a young man at the age of 43 from Stage 4 colon cancer. Chadwick Boseman was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in 2016 and for four years battled the cancer whilst continuing to lead a full life, accomplishing more in four years than many of us can do in a lifetime, all the while knowing and understanding that he had this cancer within him and what the possibilities could be.
He kept positive. Consider this – colon cancer takes upwards of eight to ten years to develop in the colon. To have had Stage 3 colon cancer at the age of 39 years old, meant a couple of things:
1) Either the cancer started developing when he was 29 and it developed quickly to Stage 3 or
2) It started developing at an earlier age and got to Stage 3 by age 29 or
3) Colon Cancer is becoming a more aggressive cancer and developing at a quicker rate than once before thought.
Colon Cancer is a treatable, beatable and preventable disease if we all take steps to ensure that we do early screening. It used to be said we should start screening at age 50. That didn’t apply to Chadwick. He was 43 when he died.
Then, along the way, the specialist said we should start screening earlier at age 45. That didn’t apply to Chadwick. He was 43 when he died.
So when should we start screening? When is the right time? Given what I know about the disease, I have told my 15-year-old son that when he turns 25, he MUST have a colonoscopy (the gold standard for screening of the colon).
Well, in 2018, at the age of 55, I did my first colonoscopy after a couple other tests showed I had cancer. The colonoscopy only confirmed the cancer and allowed a sample to be tested. That was at age 55. Had I done a colonoscopy much earlier than I did, the growth would have been detected and prevented.
Secondly, my son is mixed race and as this disease affects black people more than white people, he now has two strikes.
Thirdly, with Chadwick dying at age 43 and possibly having had this disease growing inside of him before the age of 29, my son now has three strikes.
It makes good sense to me to have my son told to be tested at 25 years old. I can only hope I will be around to follow through with him.
The moral of this story, people, is GET TESTED EARLY. A colonoscopy can save your life. I am living proof. Mine was caught at Stage 1 and surgery removed it and I didn’t have to do Chemotherapy or radiation. Just follow-up tests, over and over.
Please don’t be afraid of the colonoscopy. It is not painful. It may be a bit costly but chemotherapy, radiation and long term sickness are more expensive, not to mention the effect it will have on you and your loved ones.
If not because of my words and sharing my story over the last two years, then understand the situation with Chadwick Boseman. Let’s all learn from that.
Face our fears, do the right thing and live our life with the best intentions possible, keeping positive throughout what comes our way.
GET TESTED EARLY.
Graham Bannister, Colon cancer survivor
Source: Barbados Today
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