Colon Cancer accounts for 9% of all cancer deaths in the United States. In men is the second leading cause of cancer deaths and the third leading cause of cancer deaths in women, behind lung and breast cancer.
Why am I spouting statistics about colon cancer? You see in October of 1981 my father died of colon cancer. He was 56 at the time, only two years older than I am now. I miss my father tremendously and feel like he was taken away from me way too soon. I don’t want my daughters to feel the same way about me in the years to come. So tomorrow, instead of answering your comments, I’m being proactive and having my third colonoscopy.
Yes, I know it’s not a pretty word or thought, but I’m doing it for me, my wonderful wife and especially my three daughters. If you’ve ever gone through this procedure, you would know that today, for me, is the toughest part of the ordeal. Tomorrow morning I’ll wake up get in the car with my wife and then be put into a nice sleep while unmentionables happen. But, it is for the good.
You see, I was living in Kansas City at the time my father, Wilfred Bereswill Sr., was diagnosed with colon cancer. He was an ironworker by trade and tough as nails. He worked his heart out to make a good life for my sister and I and I remember he worried daily about getting laid off and providing for the family. I think the only riff I had with my father was that he wanted me to follow in his footsteps and I decided to go to college instead. It took him a while to understand and support my decision, but once I graduated, I know he was proud of me. Just a year after I graduated, he was diagnosed and four months later, he died.
He went into the hospital for exploratory surgery and they removed a section of his colon to prolong his life, but it had spread too far and he was given two months to live. Shortly after he was released from the hospital, he put my Mother in their orange 1977 Ford Pinto and he made the drive across Missouri to see the house I had built in Olathe, Kansas. That was one of the last times he left his house.
I made the 5 hour trip every weekend I could to spend time with him. I can’t describe how it felt to watch this once proud and strong man that I looked up to wither and die. The last weekend I saw him was in late September. I remember trying to shave his face because he was too weak to do it himself. When I took his razor and shaving cream back to the bathroom, I cried. Sometime during the following week, I received a call from my mom. They called it Cachexia; the extreme loss of body mass commonly seen in cancer patients. I called it one of the unhappiest days of my life. I lost my father.
I can only remember two things during the days that followed. Hugging my cousin, Buddy, who had lost his Dad, my father’s brother, to lung cancer the year before, and my friend Patty Guempel who had lost her father to a heart attack several years before. I’ve tried hard to remember the funeral home, the gravesite in Jefferson Barracks Memorial Cemetery, but for the life of me, I must have blocked it all out.
I’m bound and determined not to let my daughters go through that feeling for a long time. I’ll try to check in when I become coherent enough to fire up my laptop.
If you have a history of colon cancer in your family, do yourself and the people you love a favor and get regular colonoscopy screenings.