A number of people have asked me how I found out I have colorectal cancer, i.e. what prompted me to get checked out, and what led to the diagnosis? Here's a short version:
- In early 2006, around springtime, I started having to go the bathroom more frequently than usual, and was generally gassy and uncomfortable. At first I thought it could be an intestinal bug or reaction to food, since it seemed more like diarrhea than anything else.
- That persisted through the spring and into the summer, which was a concern in itself, but nothing too alarming. I did have to go even more frequently, sometimes interrupting other activities during the day.
- By autumn I noticed some blood in my stool, sometimes bright red. That was not a good sign, so I went to see my family doctor, Dr. Hassam, in October.
- He thought I should not be especially concerned—there were numerous possible non-dangerous explanations—but recommended I see a gastroenterologist anyway. I waited a few weeks to hear back.
- Things did not improve, so I went to see Dr. Hassam again in November. He had by this time arranged a referral to Dr. Enns, a good local gastroenterologist.
- I saw Dr. Enns in December. He suspected proctitis (an inflamed rectum), and a cancellation let him give me a flexible sigmoidoscopy the very next week. During that procedure, he found not proctitis, but a polyp that had been causing the problems, and the blood as well.
- After the Christmas holidays, I saw Dr. Hassam again for the results, and he told me and my wife that it was cancer, and that further treatment was necessary.
- This week, I had a colonoscopy from Dr. Enns, and he arranged for a CT scan that same day, as well as an endoscopic ultrasound the next day (which was yesterday). The ultrasound happened because Dr. Enns detected another lump in my rectum during the colonoscopy, but it seems that is both unrelated to the cancer and very unlikely to be anything else to worry about—it's just some tough tissue.
- On the plus side, the colonoscopy showed no further polyps or growths further up my intestine, so there's no additional cancer or pre-cancerous tissue to be concerned about. That's a relief.
- Next week, my wife and I will meet with Dr. Enns again to go over the results, and plans for surgery and any other treatments after that. My surgeon, I found out yesterday, will be Dr. Brown. Sometime in the next few weeks, Dr. Brown will remove the cancerous tissue, and perhaps the extra lump just for safety, but I don't know more than that.
And here I am. We seem to have caught it early, but this will be my focus for the next few weeks or months. I'll of course still blog about other geeky stuff, but expect plenty more on the butt cancer as well.