From the story of my colon cancer diagnosis, I think it’s easy to tell I didn’t suspect I had issue with my gastrointestinal at all before the checkup. This left me puzzled and so I kept searching for symptoms of colon cancer to see if I even exhibit any of the signs.
First of all, my maternal grandmother suffered colon cancer at old age. With that being the case, I have thought of my chance getting it at old age but not now when I’m 25 years younger than the age for the recommended regular colonoscopy.
Based on online resources, colon cancer is apparently a very quiet cancer that’s hard to detect early unless scoped periodically. It being quiet also means that it’s less aggressive so that’s a relief.
Below are some of the symptoms according to online sources and here are my comments for each of them upon looking back.
Change in bowel movement or bowel consistency.
I didn’t experience constipation or diarrhoea. In fact, I felt my bowel movement improved because I have been more conscious of my frequency to the toilet. In terms of consistency, I thought it has softened and improved a bit over the past year. Nothing to be suspicious, right?
Rectal bleeding or blood in stool.
Nope, until the hour before my surgery when my motion was of clear water that I noticed fragments of blood. Fragments of blood so little that I would not have noticed if not because I was pooping clear water as part of my operation procedure to cleanse my bowel. No chance to detect otherwise.
Persistent abdominal pain.
This was the only thing that was obvious. I had feeling of cramp, pain and gas as well, which I thought was some severe period pain and unhealthy bowel movement. Also, since young, my bowel has been loud (like it needs greasing) so it didn’t catch my attention.
A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely.
Yes. This was something I felt recently but I thought it was what it felt like: bowel was not emptied completely.
Weakness or fatigue.
Yes, on non-working days. RK just thought I’m plain lazy. I still think my cravings for naps was just my laziness because it’s a habit.
Unexplained weight loss.
Not at all. I have been keeping a consistent range of (underweight and unhealthy) 41-43kg since I left high school 8 years ago. What weight loss?!
A lower than normal red blood cells.
How can I tell right? All my life, I’m prone to blackout when I exert to much energy or experience sudden elevation change. So is that a sign? I doubt so.
Yes, especially after passing motion. For some reason, my tummy gets bloated almost every time after I pass bowel. Something weird that’s finally answered now.
Unable to pass wind.
No farting? Nay of course! RK complained I farted too much. LOL. So what symptom is this?
Hmm I haven’t fell sick since mid last year. No to being sick!
Loss of appetite.
When the dietician probed me on this, she asked if I still want to eat when she puts my favourite food in front of me. Oh yes! I want to eat rojak, roti canai, nasi lemak, nasi kerabu, chicken curry and more local delicacies (#trulymalaysian) even when you don’t put it in front of me now.
So shouldn’t I be thankful that I was diagnosed when I didn’t exhibit a lot of the symptoms? Thankful that I met great doctors who got the right diagnosis early. And thankful that it’s getting treated now before it advanced to display more symptoms.