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Gerald Molling column: My brush with cancer, and how early detection saved my life

10:50 PM, Feb. 22, 2013  |  Comments
- -DOUG WOJCIK/Stevens Point Journal. Dr. Fredrick Boehm at the Rice Medical Center demonstrates the proper technique used in a breast self-exam.
- -DOUG WOJCIK/Stevens Point Journal. Dr. Fredrick Boehm at the Rice Medical Center demonstrates the proper technique used in a breast self-exam.
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In November, the phrase "early detection" was given a new meaning for me.

I was scheduled to have a knee replacement. The preparation for the surgery involved a number of lab tests, and it was in the lab test that it was discovered my platelet count was low. Among other things, this could mean an ulcer or a problem with my bone marrow.

My doctor ordered a colonoscopy. Upon coming out of the anesthesia, I was greeted with the news of a cancerous growth in my large intestine, complete with a picture of it. This was a parasite draining the energy that was supposed to go to the rest of my body.

Looking back, I can see things were not right with me. I was sleeping more, feeling tired more. The decline had been gradual, and I hadn't noticed.

Instead of having a knee replacement, I went under the knife on Nov. 15. Surgeons removed two feet of my large intestine along with 46 lymph nodes. These were sent to the lab for examination. The operation was on Thursday and lab results were not expected until the following Monday. These were long days.

Cancer as I know it comes in four stages. Stage one: No treatment necessary as the tumor is contained. Periodic checkups scheduled.

Stage two: Tumor not contained but with proper treatment, most will recover. Stages three and four: More intense treatment; less chance of recovery.

That Monday, I got my results. I was a stage one.

The relief can only be appreciated by those who have gone through the process.

I have long felt someone is looking out for me and along with the Big Guy are the doctors here in the Wausau area. Factor in my stay at Aspirus Wausau Hospital, which was as good as it could be, and I will rate the whole process as no less than excellent. We are fortunate to have this quality health care in our area..

I started this column speaking of early detection. I spent a number of years in the trucking industry, where preventative maintenance was a watchword. It's a fact that if a small problem is ignored, it will become a larger one. With man or machine, early detection and preventative maintenance are synonymous. Take care of the small problem by getting an annual checkup or taking other preventive measures and the larger one may not appear.

For me, this process started with the need to replace a knee. That was done January 29. The cancer is gone and I'm walking without an aid.

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