Guest blog by Theresa Givens
This March, I want you to know that your health can’t wait.
If there are symptoms of colorectal cancer that you’re ignoring—even if you think you’re invincible, like I did—by all means, pay attention. See a doctor and get screened. I learned this the hard way.
I worked for 42 years in the federal service, last at the Department of Homeland Security. When I walked away from my job, I walked straight into extensive care for my loved ones. My husband was dealing with complications from a cardiac arrest, and my 96-year-old mom had been in and out of hospitals while suffering from Alzheimer’s.
As I transported them to and from appointments, cooked meals, and shared time with my mom, a pain was growing in my abdomen area. Still, I thought I was perfectly healthy, just as I always had been. Not until I had excruciating pain, like something was pushing its way out of my gut, did I feel a need to seek professional help.
My last colonoscopy was about a decade earlier. Had I known more about the risk of colorectal cancer—had I known then what I know now—I would’ve stayed current in my screenings.
To my shock, doctors found stage-IV colorectal cancer that had spread to my liver. At first, they told me I had two years to live. But I underwent aggressive chemotherapy, which I continue to this day and probably for the rest of my life, and I have a great prognosis.
The main reason I share my story is so others can be aware. I thought I was fine and cancer couldn’t happen to me. Now I look at myself a little differently. Sometimes you need to put yourself first. If I need to go to the hospital, I’m going.
Let’s not be naive to our health. Let’s not think we’re the doctor. We’re not doctors, and we can’t do self-assessment.
Your health can’t wait.
- Theresa Givens
Get involved with National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Click here to find out how.