Today the wind made our house creak and snap, not an easy feat for our sturdy Four-Square and I spent my day unsettled. I drove to work, taught class, helped students, and drove home mulling over what I would write in my blog post today. You may have noticed (maybe?) my blog absence these past two weeks. I could say I've been busy, but it's mostly that I fell down the mourning spiral. Sometime mourning feels a lot like you're walking along just fine and you trip on a hole. It's jolting and uncomfortable. You may look back to see what exactly happened, but just briefly over your shoulder before you continue on. But sometimes mourning feels like unexpectedly falling off a cliff. You're less able to see where you were when it happened and less likely to continue on without some recovery time.
Wednesday marks three months since my father's passing, oh hell, death. It's past the point that people really know what to do with me or really recall quickly that things have fallen apart. I've received and still do receive beautiful notes, messages, and care packages but I find myself unable to respond directly. These things matter the most to me and I think about writing back all the time, but don't. I'm sure those who care about me understand, or at least I hope they do.
But this post isn't supposed to be about my sadness. It's supposed to be about keeping a torch lit and keeping the darkness from your life. March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and today is the day to dress in blue as part of an awareness campaign. People get uncomfortable when talking about colon cancer. Perhaps because then we have to talk about colons, colonoscopies, and **gasp** body functions like pooing. If you see in the news that a celebrity has passed away from a non-specific cancer, it's more than likely that person had colon cancer. The media doesn't want to say colon or rectum or any such uncomfortable word. Sometimes they name the secondary cancer, the place where wild colon cancer cells spread, but barely ever colon.
The crazy thing is that there's just so many people with colon cancer. Consider these facts from the American Cancer Society and the Colon Cancer Alliance:
1 in 19 men will have colon cancer
1 in 20 woman will
it is the 3rd most common cancer
it is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths
101,700 new cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed this year
39,510 others with rectal cancer
an estimated 49,300 people will die this year from colon cancer
Colon cancer death rates have been dropping over the past 20 years. It's attributed to better screening, which means, yes, getting a colonoscopy. They're recommended if you're over 50, but the game changes when you have a family history of cancer, eat red meat regularly, or have an inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn's. Getting properly screened can reduce your risk. It's 80% preventable when detected early.
If I'm honest, my dad did not fit in anywhere close to that 80%. He had Crohn's disease, a vestige from his time in Vietnam and Agent Orange exposure. He had another primary cancer, prostate, with spread to the bladder. He knew he was in a high risk category and had colonoscopies at really regular intervals. As someone who worked in the health care industry, he was up to date on all of his medical care. Somehow things aligned so that his colon cancer was not caught until it was Stage IV with peritoneal and omentum spread, pretty much the worst of the worst for colon cancer. But the truth is that his illness was truly unusual and more people will be able to prevent colon cancer than not.
So here I am, a newly initiated member of a high risk category. You can guarantee I'll be screened.
Outfit consists of:
Necklace: moon and star glass necklace found in Venice, Italy
Shirt: blue drape front shirt by blu heaven found at TJ Maxx
Belt: brown belt found at TJ Maxx
Skirt: blue and tan skirt found at Goodwill
Tights: sweater tights found at TJ Maxx
Boots: brown DB boots found at Last Chance