“You have the insurance, why don’t you use it?” That’s what I heard from Niccole while we were dating and after we got married. And she was right.
I’ve been blessed to have medical coverage my entire life, but as an adult, for too many reasons to count (all excuses), I would only see a doctor as a last option.
Here’s the deal. I have spent half of 2021 seeing specialists and trying to find answers for breathing issues I thought were heart-related, sinus and allergy concerns, and stomach and digestive problems.
It’s that gut thing that resulted in a gastroenterologist telling me to quit wasting time and get my colon checked. As the doctor told me, “You’re already in a high-risk group and you’re 57. Let’s get you scheduled.”
Four days after seeing the gastroenterologist, I experienced two procedures for the first time. And it’s something I should’ve done at least 13 years ago. I had a colonoscopy and endoscopy. Doctors wanted to check my upper and lower colon for all the issues that can lead to colorectal cancer.
According to statistics from the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States. In August of 2020, Chadwick Boseman, the star of Marshall, Black Panther, Get on Up, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom died as a result of complications from colon cancer. He was only 43.
From all accounts, Boseman was vigilant with his health, yet was diagnosed with having colon cancer at 39. The recommended age for colon cancer screening is 45.
I mention Boseman because he’s famous and we tend to react to people in the spotlight. But for most of us, there is no spotlight, just the need to get checked.
That leads me to the question I ask myself. Why did I take so long to get a colon cancer screening?
I can only speak for myself by saying I don’t like doctor appointments. What if something is wrong? Of course, that makes no sense at all. What if the colonoscopy hurts? Again, considering the anesthetic knocks you out, you don’t feel a thing. What about the cost? I’m fortunate to be covered medically. Basically? No excuses.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand too many Americans don’t have health insurance and can’t afford the office visits, lab work, and procedures. That’s an entirely different topic, and a huge one, for another day. According to CostHelper.com, without insurance, the average colonoscopy costs three thousand dollars.
If possible, when the recommended time comes, we all need to check for colon cancer. Black men especially. Statistics by the American Cancer Society show black men are about 20 percent more likely to get colorectal cancer and 40 percent more likely to die from it than most other groups.
My endoscopy/colonoscopy was painless and appears to be good news. The doctor removed a tiny polyp and told me there’s nothing to worry about.
For the past 15 or so years, I think I avoided a colonoscopy, and other health matters because I knew there would be the chance the news could be bad. If I only had a dollar for every time someone told me, “That’s no way to look at life.”
Again, I speak for myself when I say “No excuses!”
I had a high school baseball coach who liked to say, “Excuses are like (fill in the blank). Everyone has one and they all stink.”
Doesn’t that quote fit this topic?
Get checked! And be well.
- by guest columnist Anthony Pittman