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Old 11-28-2005, 08:50 PM   #1
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Do you have thin / flat stools and are you worried?

I know this sounds like I'm about to sell you something, but I'm not. I'm fulfilling a promise I made to myself a while ago when I first made an appointment to have a full colonoscopy.

My history: My uncle had died of colon cancer in 2001 while in his late 60's, and my father succumbed to lung cancer just last year (2004) at 71. My mother has a history of colon polyps; and I mean so much that her examiner calls her a "polyp factory".

I had started to notice that my stools were diminishing in diameter. No blood, no other symptoms. Sometimes flattened, sometimes pencil-thin. My diet is quite varied, healthy and rich in fiber; at 6'2" and 190lbs I am in good physical shape. I am 46 years old.

I was shocked that when I went to my family doctor with my concerns and she told me to go straight for a full colonoscopy. She did not recommend - as I expected - a first-line fecal blood exam or sigmoidoscope. She did not offer much in terms of comfort on what else it could be but colon cancer. Given my family history I now had reason to be worried and I made my appointment immediately. That was nearly a month ago.

I was depressed, and searching on the internet only depressed me more. If you do any sort of a search on "thin" or "flat" stools they point you straight to "colon cancer". The search terms "flat/thin" lead straight to calamity.

If you are reading this, you may have the same symptoms, and unless you are a complete **** have already decided to make an appointment to get yourself checked out PROPERLY. If you have made this decision, then good for you. You may also be scared out of your mind. Don't be.

If you HAVEN'T made this decision, then continue to worry and be uncertain.

So here's what you probably want to know: I just came back from my colonoscopy and I sailed through it with flying colours. It was fast, did not require any sedation. I would rate the discomfort equivalent to a short bout of diarrhea. There was a flash of pain as the doctor went for "the last corner before the finish line" - however that last little sore spot was worth it because I got a FULL colonoscopy and a full proper view of EVERYTHING.

Next to me in the wiating area was a 52 year old guy who was coming for a follow-up exam three years after his cancer surgery. Judging by his slim, healthy appearance I would say that he had a succesful surgery; and judging by his tight jeans, I would guess that he did NOT have a colostomy bag. He would have been 49 for his surgery - three years older than me. I do not know whether the surgery was to remove a benign polyp or a pre-cancerous one, or a malignancy.

So here's what I have to tell you from my experience. If you have reason to be concerned, act on it. If your profile is somewhat like mine you probably have nothing dangerous - but to ignore it is stupid.

Onc again, if you've made the appointment, relax. If you haven't made the appointment, then continue to be scared and uncertain until you DO make an appointment. Then you can relax.

In my case, it turned out to be nothing; I'm fine. Chances are you are fine too. Stop being scared - just take comfort that you are NOT doing something stupid and dangerous like ignoring a possible early warning sign.

By the way, the night before my examination (and as a tribute to my recently-deceased dad who always wanted me to have a kid) I decided to go to the "foster parent's plan" web site ([url]http://www.fosterparentsplan.ca/[/url]) and "adopt" a little girl in Bangladesh; I asked for the girl who had been on the waiting list the longest. ("Adoption" means a continuous $30-$40/month sponsorship donation for the child)

I would say that given the results today this little girl (whoever she is) is now my guardian angel. In case you could use your own, real, live guardian angel, you might want to try the same thing. It seemed to work for me.

Good luck!

Last edited by CrashAlpha; 11-29-2005 at 04:40 PM.

 
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Old 11-28-2005, 09:12 PM   #2
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Re: Do you have thin / flat stools and are you worried?

My advice, don' wait for ANY symptoms. If you have a strong family history of Colon Cancer DEMAND that that first colonoscopy at age 40. Do not wait for the standard at age 50.

Personally, I have a conscientious MD who suggested it and I took her advice ... but I have a close friend whose father and 4 of his brother all died of colon cancer and her MD told her it wasn't necessary ... I think it's crazy for her NOT to be pushing for it, but she won't listen to me ...

 
Old 11-29-2005, 12:46 AM   #3
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Re: Do you have thin / flat stools and are you worried?

Try reading other people's posts on these message boards to get an idea of what its about.

 
Old 11-29-2005, 06:11 AM   #4
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CancerDad HB User
Re: Do you have thin / flat stools and are you worried?

I echo Bossan. Also, some people need to be scared a little infused with optimism in order to take this seriously. Secondly, don't assume that someone else who is sitting next to you couldn't possibly have an ostomy if he/she is wearing form fitting clothes. WE don't shop at the ostomy clothing stores, and I would be willing to bet you that you would not be able to tell if he had an ostomy, or some of the people with whom you associate at work. Just wanted to shatter that myth.

Lastly, guidelines are changing for colonoscopies, especially with ANY family history. Recommended age is now 40, often times for the general population, to begin receiving colonoscopies. This is what the trend is for many insurance companies recommendations as well.

To the poster above, congratulations on your potential adoption.
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Last edited by CancerDad; 11-29-2005 at 06:13 AM.

 
Old 11-29-2005, 12:03 PM   #5
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Re: Do you have thin / flat stools and are you worried?

Contrary to Bossan's implication I HAD read other posts on this board - that's why I posted my message. I had been reading them since I made my appointment a month ago. I found posts from people who had been tested for the same symptoms as I had and were soon treated for cancer.

But this was also the ONLY information resource that I found where I saw that it was possible to come back with a negative diagnosis. The only bright moment that I had in this past month were thanks to those who were kind enough to come back after their tests and say, "hey - there ARE other things that can give you these symptoms". I came here to do the same favour - but to also tell people that if you have a profile like mine (thinning or flattened stools with no other obvious signs of IBD or hemmarrhoids) that you SHOULD be scared if you DON'T get tested.

And by the way, CancerDad - thanks for the info on ostomy solutions. That's VERY good to know!

Last edited by CrashAlpha; 11-29-2005 at 12:14 PM.

 
Old 11-29-2005, 01:25 PM   #6
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CancerDad HB User
Re: Do you have thin / flat stools and are you worried?

Crash:
PLEASE don't just tell us about your experience... DON'T stop here...tell all your friends, co-workers, anyone who will listen. WE NEED to break the silence and ignorance surrounding this horrific disease, and the only way to do this is to talk about it.

~CancerDad
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Old 11-29-2005, 02:27 PM   #7
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Re: Do you have thin / flat stools and are you worried?

Quote:
Originally Posted by StephMA
My advice, don' wait for ANY symptoms. If you have a strong family history of Colon Cancer DEMAND that that first colonoscopy at age 40. Do not wait for the standard at age 50.

Personally, I have a conscientious MD who suggested it and I took her advice ... but I have a close friend whose father and 4 of his brother all died of colon cancer and her MD told her it wasn't necessary ... I think it's crazy for her NOT to be pushing for it, but she won't listen to me ...
Message To Crash:

The above is a good example of how to make a very important point. I appreciate your situation and worries, I, like many others have been there and farther than you can imagine. Regarding you negative test results, great. I have had some amazing progress in my battle against cancer. BUT, I don't do a song and dance when the going gets good, in fact, I humbly give thanks, look at loved ones around me and cry. I find your pollyana "I'm okay and you'll be okay too if you get checked" diatribes offensive. There are many others here who have suffered on levels that you are obviously not aware of.

Tell people to get checked. Enjoy your good news, but try to be low keyed. If I had be given a sigmoid at the very least, I would have posibly avoided the hell I have endured this year, which is still nothing compared to what other dear souls on this board have gone through.

I say this with love in my heart, open your eyes a bit more and enjoy your good fortune.

Last edited by bossan; 11-29-2005 at 02:27 PM.

 
Old 11-29-2005, 02:46 PM   #8
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Thumbs up Re: Do you have thin / flat stools and are you worried?

Congratulations to all the posters who echo my feelings on the need for colonoscopies. I will be doing my third 'C' in 2 1/2 years next Wednesday(missed a polyp on the first one & flex-sig showed it) but I am on a two year interval for these tests. I had 2 small pre-cancerous polyps removed last trip and a flex-sig last Dec showed nothing - so I hope I am good to go next Wednesday with the colonoscopy. My brother died at 58 w/ CC and he refused to address his symptoms (and they were many & serious) and he paid for this hesitation with his life. I don't intend on making the same mistake. As my colon rectal surgeon says: Get the test! Get the polyp! Get the cure! I couldn't agree more. Keep on the 'soapbox' and encourage everyone to have the test...they just might want to thank you for saving their life!

Dave

PS: On the thin stools, my Doctor says that can come from a variety of things and not just CC but wise to check out any change that lasts for more than several days or so.

 
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