Five years ago today a skilled surgeon removed a tangerine size malignant growth from my upper intestine.
One Saturday in March of 2017, it took me nearly all afternoon to mow the top of winter growth from my yard – usually a half-hour task. And, the weather had turned ideal for taking a good long walk with my wife, but I could make it only a few blocks. My primary doc had given me a clean bill of health during my 80th birthday month the October before. I shrugged off the puffing and weakness in my legs. “So this is 80,” I told myself.
I stood to greet the doctor as he entered the examining room. Without any other greeting Dr. Moroye said, “John you’re sick!” Later he told me his reactive comment was because my facial pallor was as white as his lab coat.
The concern in his face was obvious to me. And having known him for over 20 years, I knew he wasn’t kidding like he sometimes did. I told him how I’d been feeling for the last month or so, he did the routines, and explained he may have to schedule some do some heart and lung stress testing. Then he said, “After listening, I’m guessing something else, so I’m sending you up to the lab for blood work, and I’ll have the results expedited.”
The next afternoon I got a call saying I had a referral to a gastroenterologist would get a call for a time. I got the call in the morning for a Thursday afternoon appointment. I had a prior commitment and asked to have it postponed to the following week. Dr. Joo’s nurse said with emphasis, “You need to be here this afternoon! Your hemoglobin is only seven – that’s half of normal!” Her tone and something about my strength seeming half of normal gave me a degree of angst.
Dr. Joo explained that Dr. Moroye had made a good call, prescribed iron tablets, and scheduled a colonoscopy and endoscopy for the next Wednesday.
I was driving home from the procedure when the gastroenterologist called. My wife took the cell-phone call and asked me to pull over.1It’s against Washington law to be on the phone while driving.
“Mr. Benson,” Dr. Joo said, “Dr. Moroye saved your life! There is a large mass in your colon, but we found nothing in the small intestine. We need to get a CAT scan and schedule surgery and after that decide if further treatment is necessary.”
We notified family, friends, and our church.
The next Monday, I had the scan. Which was followed up by my meeting with surgeon Dr. Hayes on Friday. He suggested that I stay out of public places to lessen the possibility of catching cold, etc. so I’d be well for surgery.
Mid-April to May 17 went by quickly: review exam by my primary, pre-surgery exam and lab work, hospital, surgery, and hospital. When asked about the size of the tumor by my family, the surgeon said, “The size of a tangerine.”
On June first, 2017. I met oncologist Dr. Hu. She agreed that surgery was enough. There was no detectable spread of cancer to organs or any area surrounding the mass and no indicators in my blood. Thus, no chemo or radiation was ordered.
Five follow up CAT scans, each on on the anniversary of detection, lab results, colonoscopy, and examinations have confirmed the surgeon’s analysis, “I got it all!”
I I believe the discovery, quick action by the team of doctors, and results are by the grace of God through prayer.
I say “Support your local independent bookstore.”