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Cancer: My Non-HIV Bogeyman

| 4 Comments
In my body's fight against HIV, I believe that my genes more than anything have helped me withstand its never-ending onslaught. Unfortunately, my genes also contain predispositions to diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

Diabetes is a major concern for me, but cancer is my bogeyman. With diabetes, I'll probably have advance warning. With cancer, it probably won't be so polite.

Numerous family members have died from cancer of various types. However, I'm mostly concerned about colorectal cancer. My dad had it. Thankfully, it was detected and removed very early with no recurrence. My mom has lifelong gastrointestinal issues, mostly related to acid reflux. I'm also a lifelong acid reflux guy, which has ruined my enjoyment of many a spicy yet otherwise delicious meal.

colonoscopy.jpg What heightens my concern the most about colorectal cancer is that I had a colonoscopy years ago and had several polyps removed. Polyps, wouldn't you know, run in the family. They were "abnormal" and large. The bad news about polyps is that although they are usually benign, it's believed that they have the potential to eventually become malignant. So, I don't believe that I'm being totally irrational in my concern.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 90 percent of colorectal cancer cases are in people age 50 and older. That's why they recommend regular testing for the 50 and over crowd. I'm not in that demographic yet, but my genes and my HIV combined have given my health care providers enough concern to be vigilant.

I'm scheduled to have a follow up colonoscopy next month and I'm not looking forward to it. Preparation for the procedure is infamously hideous, but that's not the worst of it for me. I've avoided this follow up for various reasons over the years, but I must admit my fear of the results has been the biggest obstacle.

At last, there's no place left for me to hide. Such are the blessings of long-term survival from HIV, which allow me to experience the uncertainties that we all confront as we age. Thank goodness for such a happy problem.

Visit the American Cancer Society for more information about colorectal cancer.

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Comments on Oriol R. Gutierrez Jr.'s blog entry "Cancer: My Non-HIV Bogeyman"

I am a 19 year HIV+ surviver and diabetes paid me permanent visit about 9 years ago. Then last year came the Big, Bad Bogyman...lung cancer which is in it's final stage so I am not going to survive this one. But while I am alive I am going to take good care of myself and try to enjoy every day that I have left. As for the colonoscopy......the saddest part is that the doctor doesn't even kiss you or tell you he loves during and after. LOL!!!!!!! But seriously...........it's a real pain in the rear.

Pete. Its quite interesting to read the ironic "punch" you use in your article. Nice and spicy. I do agree with you regarding the horrors of a colonoscopy. I have had two in the last 5 years. All its OK no problems so far. I was diagnosed HIV in 2001 I was alone, no family or "partner". That was a shocker. in 2005 I was diagnosed with throat cancer. THAT was the most frightening experience of my life ever, once more, alone and no partner. After Chemo and Radiation, I'm still here. trying to decipher what's the hidden meaning of it all. Something in me guides me to fear and the other "something" urges me to fight. To not be afraid, to stand up and fight with all I've got, be it little or much. As for Pete, my heart is with you man, one may never understand the reasons for these things. Or call it craziness but all my life I've had to always come up winning. regardless of my loses. I must find what's good in it. I've learned that the only person you are really responsible for is your self and never, never accept disappointment. You will fight relentlessly and do what ever needs to be done as you see fit. Real men are not measured from head to toe, but from head to heaven. Cheers!

Always look at the good side of things. A couple of decades ago, the colonoscopy procedure was not being done. Now it's being performed on the regular for those over 50, etc., so this is a good thing. Yes, for some, the procedure is not pleasant, but it sure can and has saved lives! So, I would suggest looking at the good side of things. You have a much higher chance of surviving then past family members.

My grandfather lived for 22 years with lung problems. He was supposed to live for only 5 years and lived for 22 years. I lived with the feeling that he would die the next day and after he died, I realized how I thought the next day he would be dead. I was so wrong.

My point, you don't know if you will get something. So today, you continue watching it and do whatever preventive things you can do in order to hopefully not have to deal with cancer and diabetes. Such as more fiber in more natural state, steel cut oats (double duty effect, it helps regulate insulin levels and keeps the colon working), fresh or frozen fruit, cutting out sugars, etc.

Plus, PLEASE, be sure to laugh at yourself! So you have to go in for the occasional probe, take a laughing look at it. It's probably the only time you have an instrument that high up and you can't even enjoy it! (just don't eat corn the day before!)

As for sugar, well, that'll have to be in the form of two legs, a beating heart and lots of passionate love making!

Life is wonderful!!!! Even rainy days and Mondays.

You are alive, Auntie Mame!!!

Thanks for sharing. I wholeheartedly agree that having a sense of humor is crucial to getting through the most difficult of circumstances. Good luck to us all!

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This page contains a single entry by Oriol R. Gutierrez Jr. published on March 23, 2009 2:23 PM.

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