By Dr. McCamy Taylor
Colon cancer 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 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 layoff. The surgeon said he did not have gallstones, but he looked at his blood work that his primary care physician 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.
If you get your health care in emergency rooms, the way that some politicians advocate, the only care you will ever receive for cancer is hospice — if you are lucky.
So, use your new Affordable Healthcare Act insurance — get your Pap smear; your mammogram. If you are one of the unlucky ones who live where the governor or legislators turned down the federal funds that would have allowed you to get health insurance, maybe you should get them on the phone and find out exactly why they want you to be one of the unlucky ones who is not diagnosed in time.
There are probably ten or twenty people out there at this moment saying “That’s me!” At least, I hope there are.