I was at a Bridal Shower this weekend.  My oldest female cousin planned the shower for her daughter (my niece). She was stunning, resembling a Hollywood Movie Star from the 1940s.  Her long golden locks fell to her waist as she offered her guests genuine love and an afternoon of fun. I watched her dance and glide across the room, remembering days long gone, when she was a baby we all drooled over.  She was the first amongst us and was loved pricelessly. Now, 27 years later, she stood before us a woman, preparing to take on new adventures and challenges.I felt so blessed to witness "her happy ending" beginning to blossom on Sunday and yet I felt a deep fear that it would be one of the last "happy endings" I'd witness or experience.  

It hit me then, how innocent we are until time and experience make us aware of truth. I don't think I knew what "cancer" was until my twenties, let alone the need to monitor a patient long after the treatment ends. Even in December, when I was diagnosed, I had no idea that this would be a life-long battle, that there were procedures to be followed.

Step 1: Go through chemo.
Step 2: Give monthly bloodwork while going through chemo.
Step 3: Finish chemo.
Step 4: Allow doctors to monitor you every three months via an onslaught of tests.
Step 5: Visit the oncologist every three months and based on test results from Step 4, reevaluate the steps and create a new action plan.

I know better now and even though I try to ignore the truth by distracting myself, the truth remains the truth. It's only been two months since my last chemo treatment, however my doctors have scheduled a: colonoscopy, full body CT scan, and blood work for this week.

Although doctors recommend colonoscopies for patients over 50, in recent years colo-rectal cancer cases have been increasing in individuals under 50 as well. Once you've obtained a colo-rectal label, you are an honorary member of the colonoscopy club for life. A colonoscopy enables doctors to take a closer examination of one's large intestines through the insertion of a thin flexible tube.  An attached video camera allows doctors to identify present ulcers, polyps, tumors, and/or inflammation. The preparation for this procedure is worse than the procedure though, or so I've been told. 

Fortunately my Life Coach, Liza Baker, is all knowing.  She prepped me a week before. "Count backwards from the day of your colonoscopy, reducing your food intake and as you approach the date of the procedure, you will feel no pain." 

"What do you mean?" I asked her more than a week ago. 

"Simple. Day 4, begin eating mashed foods. Day 3, transfer from mashed foods to soups. Day 2, thin out your soups a bit. Day 1 drink only transparent liquids. This will make the chemical cleanse more bearable. and if you want a more exact dietary plan, google "natural prep for colonoscopies." 

I did just that. I started Friday of last week with mashed foods (mashed potatoes, oatmeal, bananas...) and by Monday I was only consuming clear liquids (apple juice, clear gatorade, water, coconut water, and tea). I also read articles defining natural ways to reduce the horror that accompanies the prep.  Here's one you can explore if you too need to prep for a colonoscopy in the near future. 

Every time my energy waned on Monday, I guzzled down 6-8 ounces of either a sugar or salt infused drink, then after a while, hunger pangs disappeared. That evening I started the chemical cleanse the doctor had prescribed. It was a gallon sized jug with a powder in it which tasted like and resembled Gatorade when mixed with water and a packet of lemon flavoring.  I was warned that the consumption would cause intense stomach cramping, and diarrhea.  

Reality however differed from the initial warning. The pain was nonexistent. I had no cramping, and no bloating. The diarrhea was unavoidable, but all in all, there was very little discomfort, all of which I credit to the "Mash to Liquid" diet I started Friday. 

My colonoscopy was yesterday.  My sister-in-law took me in. My doctor sedated me, promising me that I would remember none of it. To his utter shock, I remained awake and asked him questions about every single inch of colon projected on the screen.  And when all was over, I looked at him and asked, "And? What's the prognosis?" 

He grinned and said, "You look completely healthy as far as your colon is concerned. I see nothing that we should be worried about." 

"And the operation? When will you put me back together again? I miss exercising and swimming? I miss hiking and running..." 

"Let's get through this week, your CT scan, blood tests, and then I'll have my people call your people to schedule your final surgery." 

I sighed, but I could have kissed him, that's how ecstatic I was with the news.  All my fears seemed to dissipate before my eyes. I had spent the last week worrying that they would find more tumors, hints of cancer, blood... I had spent all week fearing that I would never see my kids grow up into men, go to college, get married, and begin lives of their own. 

The mental anguish had definitely been worse than the physical one. Now, after my first of many colonoscopies to come, I can't help but rejoice in the goodness of God and in the vision of numerous family adventures, weddings, graduations, and celebrations for maybe, just maybe, happy endings do exist!



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