4 Things You Need to Know Before You Are Diagnosed with Colon Cancer (National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month)

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What colon cancer actually is and what it is to me are two different things. I didn’t know if I was ready to take on this challenge until I was personally faced with it, so I am going to share some information on what you can do (or might already be doing) to make things a little easier if/when life takes you through an unexpected health detour.

What is colon cancer?

Colon cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic, usually begins as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called polyps that form on the inside of the colon. Over time these polyps can become colon cancer. You have an increased risk of having this if it runs in your family history. Most people diagnosed are above the age of 50. Symptoms are not very obvious. Depending on the stage, a lot can be done. Of course you need to catch it early, so if you ever have any strange abdominal issues, even if minor, bring it up to your doctor. Preventative testing is easy, and is not usually considered until age 45, so you need to be your own advocate. 

What colon cancer is to me:

Tears ran down my cheeks as I first heard the word “tumor,” my husband audibly sobbing next to me, and my angel of a medical doctor knelt down and started praying over me. Nothing prepares you for that moment. 

My thoughts immediately turn to my children, my poor children. 

Goals I once had now seem like a privilege, and I was acting like a spoiled brat, taking my sweet time to accomplish them. Now they are gone, maybe forever. 

Looking at my husband’s face while exchanging our wedding vows, I just knew that I would grow old with him and have a beautiful end-of-life story, like in The Notebook. But that was never promised. 

Thank goodness we have today, and hopefully tomorrow, and everyone can relate to this fragile path we call life.

Although nothing prepares you for any of life’s uncertainties, during this time I have came up with a list of things I am grateful that I had already established, pre-cancer, in my life.

Those things are…

Health Insurance

I am a gluten-free, vegan, 40-year-old, who gets chiropractic adjustments and works out regularly; and I got colon cancer. There was less than a 10% chance I would get this at my age, and the percentage is even smaller if you are not a genetic mutation carrier, which I’m not. If I need health insurance, you do too.

Life Insurance

See above, except this one protects your children.

Stable, Healthy Relationships

At different times in my life I have navigated though relationship turmoil. When this all started I was thankfully in very healthy relationships with myself, my kids, husband, friends, and family. Everyone has hard times, but be kind and generous to your relationships so that when the unexpected happens, your people have your back in ways that are game-changing, because you would do the same for them.

Support System

My husband and some other close people in my life surprised me with a “rally party”. Instead of feeling scared and isolated, I felt loved and supported. Our Wichita Mom community and groups responded immediately with support and love and encouragement like beautiful powerful flowers spread all over our city. And even my gym surrounded me with love and prayer after a workout class, allowing me to just cry and take in magnetic good energy. You will try to shut people out when things get hard in life, but accepting them is like holding a place for your healing, and allowing others to play a role in your recovery. I believe that is a gift for everyone.

We need to prepare for anything that might turn our lives around. Having knowledge of the dangers, living with love, and having a supportive life in general will help make life’s challenges a little easier.

May you be blessed and never need this advice, and may you love every minute of your crazy-beautiful life.  

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Denise Dopps
Denise is a chiropractor and speaker, wife to Ryan, and mama to Eli (b. 2009), Hadley (b. 2012), and three-going-on-thirteen youngest daughter Lucy (b. 2015). She moved to Wichita with her husband in 2007 after living in West Michigan and Dallas, Texas, but Wichita became her home from the start. With a Bachelors in Graphic Design and Marketing and Doctorate of Chiropractic, she co-owns a practice with her husband in East Wichita where they find joy in serving others throughout our community. In her spare time, Denise loves to record her podcast which empowers others in vocabulary and etiquette of communication. Denise enjoys being involved in her church when possible, is passionate about healthy food and exercise, and appreciates listening to a good podcast while doing chores. With all that needs to be done in a day, she never misses the opportunity to remind her children that they are the most important part of it.