“It wasn’t cancerous.”

That’s what a surgeon told me today about five weeks after pulling a large polyp out of my colon during a colonoscopy.

He estimated it had been there for about five years, which means it started not long after my previous colonoscopy.

“If you had waited another year, it probably would have been cancerous,” he told me.

I had delayed the most recent colonoscopy by about a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was afraid I might catch COVID in the hospital, so I wanted to wait until after I had received both jabs of the COVID vaccine.

Even after getting the second shot, I put off the colonoscopy till one day in August I discovered some blood when I went to the washroom. That got me to call my doctor, and by the next day, an appointment was booked for an emergency colonoscopy.

It turns out the blood was from a little hemorrhoid. Thank God for that.

And thank the doctor who removed the polyp. He may have saved my life.

I had been feeling pretty uneasy for the past month while I awaited the results of the biopsy. I was imaging the worst-case scenario: a battle against cancer and worse.

I also thought about the number of times medical science has saved my life. In days of old, I wouldn’t have made 30. In my late 20s, my lung collapsed. It was a condition called spontaneous pneumothorax. In my case, it would have been fatal if it had not been treated. I spent a week in the hospital with a tube through my rib cage, then another five weeks at home recovering.

I would have two more spontaneous pneumothoraxes in the next few years, spending a week in the hospital each time.

That was three of my nine lives used up.

Then there was the gall bladder incident, which I wrote about here while I lay in a hospital bed and got a lot of support from readers at the time. I don’t know what might have happened if a surgeon hadn’t removed it, but I’m thinking I wouldn’t be writing here today.

So, that’s four of my nine lives used up.

And then this most recent health scare. Number five of my nine lives.

Colon cancer runs in my family. My mother and her brother, my uncle, died from it. So, it’s a genetic thing, which is why I will be regularly monitored for it from now on, starting with a followup look in five months at the spot where the big polyp was removed.

I absolutely will not put off any more colonoscopy appointments, because in my case, it really could be a matter of life and death. I’m feeling very fortunate today.

I urge you not to put off these kinds of tests. That’s one of the reasons why I am writing this post.

The other is to praise our medical system and the dedicated doctors and nurses and support staff who make it all happen. They are lifesavers. I wouldn’t be here today without them, and without all the scientists who have advanced medical technology.

God bless them all.

— Jillian