On July 18, 2010, I lost one of the most important people in my life to colon cancer. My husband Chris was 45 when he was diagnosed with the disease, and 47 when he died.
His cancer very likely started growing when he was around 41. As it was explained to me, it was of an evil, slow growing variety that wouldn’t have shown itself with symptoms until the battle was raging. Had he been old enough for a colonoscopy, this story would have been very different. But the current recommendation for the procedure is age 50, and it’s actually a good one. Less than 3 percent of all colon cancer cases occur before than age. Chris’s family had no history of colon cancer, and he had no reason to suspect he might be developing it.
Chris was a great guy. He was complicated, he was molested in his family of origin from a from very young age. He was an addict, which is a common story, abuse survivors often self-medicate. He was a father, and this was probably his favorite role. Each of our children were delightful to him, he loved every aspect of bringing up children. He was brilliant, acquiring many degrees and educational honors. He was very caring, and had friends of all varieties.
He was my husband, and best male friend. Even now, that’s about all I can say about that without crying like a baby.
Most importantly, he was a Christian. He fought terrible internal battles because of his issues, and like King David of old, wanted very much to be a man after God’s own heart.
I started this blog nearly a year ago, and one of the very best, most heartfelt and satisfying things that has happened is that ten of you have had told me that you have had a colonoscopy because of it, and three of you have spotted early, stage 1 cancers. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for sharing that with me. I am delighted that this is one monster you’ll keep at bay.
Some of the most difficult choices I have had to make after Chris died involve control. What kind of control did I still have over our lives, over the direction of the children’s’ lives, over my own direction and destiny?
The answer today seems to be- very little. Life is fragile, and we are foolish to think that we can escape the planet alive. The other answer is- a great deal. We can control who we trust, love, see or help. We can control what we do- curl up into a fetal position and pull the covers up, or go out and find someone else to help.
This blog is an exercise in control for me. Finding things for you to read that are interesting, funny, shocking, different, sad, exuberant or out of the box is quite a challenge. Packaging them in a 500 to 1000 word essay is a lot of fun. Some of them are lame, and some are actually pretty good.
At any rate, it makes me smile to think of you reading these things, and for that I thank you.