When a Colonoscopy leads to an Unexpected Colon Cancer Diagnosis ~ Lian Dolan

Satellite Sisters Colon Cancer

In August, I went in for a routine colonoscopy. I’m 54 and had been dragging my feet about doing the procedure, mainly because I had an irrational fear of the anesthesia. (Not the prep, a more common deterrent.) But my friend from college, Karah, had been sending me nudge-y texts for months about doing the procedure. “Get your act together,” she scolded in a commanding tone of voice that only Karah can pull off without sounded judge-y.  She was relentless in person and via text. Just to shut her up,  I booked the appointment for August, our hiatus month from the podcast.  I was confident, cocky, I even wrote a cheeky column about it for Pasadena Magazine. I was ready to do the thing, as the kids say.

For the record, I had no issues with the prep or the anesthesia. I felt great after the colonoscopy, pleased with myself that I could report back to Karah that I had done what she told me to do. I had gotten my act together. My gastroenterologist removed a polyp, but he said it looked benign and everything else looked good in there. “Clean as a whistle. Good prep.”

            So I was shocked when the results of the biopsy on the polyp came back positive. I was diagnosed with colon cancer and, just like that, everything changed.  In short, there were CT scans and EKGs and blood work and appointments with surgeons. I’d get off the elevator on the oncology floor and think, “What am I doing here?” I read my pathology report a thousand times, looking up every word and number to understand what I was dealing with. I cut back my work and personal commitments, my travel and my wine consumption and increased my cardio, my yoga classes and my protein intake. I cried at weird times and in weird places. I started meditating. In mid-October,  I underwent surgery and had about a foot of my right colon removed. A few day later, I got the news that the pathology on my resected colon and lymph nodes came back clean. I cried some more.  I’m cancer-free now and relieved, grateful beyond words and healing well. The early diagnosis was the key to a good prognosis.

The early diagnosis was the key to the key to a good prognosis. As my nurse friend said, “You’re the poster child for why people should get colonoscopies.”

I’ll tell you all about the last few months on this week’s Satellite Sisters podcast. With more details and more crying, I’m sure. Also, we’ll talk about what’s ahead for me in terms of lifestyle and diet changes and challenges.

But more importantly, if you have sisters or friends who are reluctant to get a colonoscopy, make sure they listen to the podcast. Bombard them with texts the feature a half dozen poop emojis and the words, ‘Have You Made Your Appointment Yet?” Or call your Satellite Sister and say, “Get your act together. Get a colonoscopy.”


For more information on Colonoscopies and Who Should Get Screened and When, click here

For more information on Colon Cancer, click here.

For support for patients and families, here are some resources.

American Cancer Society 

Colon Cancer Coalition 

Colorectal Cancer Alliance