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Fri Apr 25, 2014, 08:03 PM

Colon Cancer Screening Was the Last Thing on His Mind...

...when he went to see his new doctor under his new insurance to talk about his stress and blood pressure and back pain. But his sister had colon cancer in her 50s, and he was 50, and the doctor said that he really ought to get checked. Colon cancer screening was about fifth or sixth on his list, behind getting checked for possible gallstones. He had a lot of problems saved up, since he had been without insurance since his lay off. The surgeon said he did not have gallstones, but he looked at his blood work that his pcp had drawn and told him "You're anemic. That's unusual in a man your age. And your sister had colon cancer in her 50's. Let's get you set up for a colonoscopy." So he drank the nasty tasting stuff and spent way too long on the toilet and the next day he went in for the test...

...and the surgeon found colon cancer. When they went in a few weeks later to snip out the surrounding colon and check the lymph nodes, everything was good. The nodes were clean---no cancer. The tumor had not spread into the walls of the colon. He had a surgical cure. They sewed him back together as good as new. He never even had a colostomy.

This is the kind of health care that folks in countries like Canada and France take for granted. There is absolutely no reason that millions of Americans should have to wait until their colon, stomach, breast and uterine cancers are symptomatic---and inoperable. But, if you get your health care in emergency rooms, the way that some Republicans advocate, the only care you will ever receive for cancer is Hospice---if you are lucky.

So, use your new ACA insurance. Get your Pap smear. Your mammogram. And, if you are one of the unlucky ones whose state governor or legislators decided that they would turn down the federal funds that would have allowed you to get health insurance, maybe you should get on the phone and give your elected representative a call and find out exactly why he or she wants you to be one of the unlucky ones who is not diagnosed in time.

True story, demographics changed for patient privacy. There are probably ten or twenty people out there at this moment saying "That's me!" At least, I hope there are.

12 replies, 2185 views

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Fri Apr 25, 2014, 08:16 PM

1. K&R for this powerful story. n/t

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Fri Apr 25, 2014, 08:23 PM

2. excellent story

and follow ups are vital. My grandfather died at 47 of CC and at 55 ive had 3 colonoscopies. Have to have every 5 years, what they find isnt pre cancerous but MIGHT turn that way without followup.
DO it, yeah tests are a pain in the ass more people dread the prep to a colonoscopy. Just do it.

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Fri Apr 25, 2014, 08:25 PM

3. Actually if he would have had regular colonoscopies every 5 years they might have been able to avoid

the surgery, and catch it when it was just a polyp.

Actually even with the ACA they are most likely not going to do screening for uterine cancer unless it is found during a pelvic examine, or symptoms of bleeding occur. I also do not believe they will normally screen for stomach cancer without symptoms either.

Right now the ACA covers mammograms and colonoscopies, and PSAs, but with some of the new recommendations, consumers when they reach a certain age, have symptoms or self-exam, really have to insist that they be screened



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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Fri Apr 25, 2014, 09:10 PM

4. My father had a regular colonoscopy. They took out a polyp.

They said it was cancerous so they wanted to take out 18 inches of his colon to get rid of the cancer.

The biopsy of the colon they took out showed no cancer. They said they had to go back in, take the rest of his colon, and hang a colostomy bag on him for the rest of his life.

That didn't sound right and he was weakened from the colonoscopy and surgery so he decided to heal up and have another look later.

He lost what seemed like 30% of his mental capacity with each anesthesia episode.

Six months later he took his biopsy samples to Mayo Clinic. They spent a week reviewing his case and testing.

They said they found no cancer on any of the biopsies or tests and that he should just followup with annual regular colonoscopies.

He never had cancer.

But within a year he developed abdominal adhesions from the surgery and was hospitalized for six weeks during which he was drugged enough to be picking imaginary bugs off the wall and jerking out his catheter.

He lost another fifty percent of his mental capacity from that hospitalization, barely recognized any family after that and died within a few months.

Had great insurance and the doctors used every bit of it they could. It didn't help him half as much as a smarter doctor would have.

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Response to postulater (Reply #4)

Fri Apr 25, 2014, 10:59 PM

6. Sorry to hear things went so wrong with your father.

It must pain you greatly to think how he was (mis) treated.

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Response to postulater (Reply #4)

Sat Apr 26, 2014, 02:28 PM

7. Excellent point and one of the problems with Medicare. We fully insure people who are

elderly. Some of these people are extremely frail, and they do not respond well to therapies that are used on younger people----and they do not need them. But, they have that insurance, and hospitals have beds to fill, and doctors are taught to do "something" not nothing. It is a brave---and unusual--- patient who is able to say "No thanks, doc. I'm 99 years old, i think I'll live with this tiny little breast cancer." My elderly father-in-law was killed by overly aggressive medical care for prostate cancer.

On the other hand, it is crime the way that we let people in their 40s and 50s who are otherwise strong and who would do well with aggressive therapy die for lack of treatment.

"Full insurance" should not be an excuse to rip someone off--I wrote a journal a long time ago about a bed ridden patient with advanced Alzheimers who died of complications after an orthopedist convinced her family that a new hip would improve her quality of life.

Lack of insurance should not be a death sentence.

Health care should not be for profit.

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Response to postulater (Reply #4)

Mon Apr 28, 2014, 01:12 PM

10. Does medicare allow for 2nd and 3rd opinions? tia

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Response to uponit7771 (Reply #10)

Mon Apr 28, 2014, 01:16 PM

12. Good question. He died 18 years ago so I don't know how it was then or now.

Secondaries probably cover if Medicare doesn't, especially with a referral.

I think most docs are amenable to making a referral for a second opinion nowadays.

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Fri Apr 25, 2014, 09:23 PM

5. How telling and they still advocate it too...

"if you get your health care in emergency rooms, the way that some Republicans advocate, the only care you will ever receive for cancer is Hospice---if you are lucky"

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Sat Apr 26, 2014, 07:48 PM

8. "some Republicans advocate, the only care you will ever receive for cancer is Hospice"

That sentence scared me a lot because it described EXACTLY what health care means to Repukes.

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Mon Apr 28, 2014, 12:56 PM

9. You've whacked another one out of the ballpark!

May I add this to my New Jersey health and fitness blog?


rocktivty

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Mon Apr 28, 2014, 01:13 PM

11. If a person gets colon cancer, his or her siblings are more likely to get it/have it as well.

 

Get checked out, especially if there is a family history!

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