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Don't be scared of tests

Posted Oct 02 2008 4:23pm

My aunt just told me her aunt has been diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer. At 58 years old, her aunt would have been diagnosed sooner if she had done a colonoscopy earlier as told by the doctors.

The question arises: Why are people so reluctant to just get tested for certain types of cancers?

Well, there are several reasons. One of the reasons is people think that since only one distant relative in the family had a certain cancer, there’s really no reason to get tested. This is complete nonsense.

Whether your mother or great-great grandfather had cancer or even another disease, you should get tested to make sure you are not at risk. If any disease has a genetic factor, then it can be passed down to any descendant.

Or if there’s an environmental reason and someone close to you, like a neighbor or relative you’re living with gets cancer, then you should get tested. For example, if a local factory or mill has been shown to cause cancer via the chemicals, it can affect anyone in that community.

Some people may also believe that insurance companies will not pay for these tests if you are either “too young” for a certain disease or that your family history does not dictate any problems.

Technically, all insurance companies should allow you to take tests and either pay partially or the entire bill. Even if you have to pay $100 for a mammogram, it would be well worth it to know the results.

But the main reason I believe people do not take these tests is because people are scared. People are scared of the discomfort of the test, which is understandable if you have no idea about the procedure. I was nervous about having my colonoscopy, but my uncle reassured me that with the drugs administered before, I would be so out of it, I wouldn’t notice anything.

The worst part of the colonoscopy that I found was just drinking that disgusting, salty contrast prior to the procedure. Then the doctors gave me a drug that knocked me out. Afterward, I felt nothing and honestly asked, “Did you start yet?”

People are also scared of the possibilities. What if I do have cancer? Am I going to die? What about my family? Not knowing the unknown is pretty scary. But I think it would be scarier to never be sure and to wake up one day to find out you are dead.

For people who are about 70 years old, they may think that they have lived their life the best they can and what is the point of expanding pain for another five years hooked up to IV tubes.

But for younger people like me, who have their entire lives in front of them, it is almost a necessity to get tested. If detected early enough, most cancers and diseases can be beaten and the survivors can live a full, long life. As for me, if I was warned two years ago to get tested, I would have jumped at the chance.

So as my warning to you all in hopes for a good, long life of either no disease or a quick recovery, talk to your doctor and insist that you get tested if there is any question of family history of cancer or any disease.

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