When your husband gets a colon cancer diagnosis, time is an obsession. First, time shockingly stops. It feels like minutes between each breath.
Then the hours race.
Will we have enough time?
As the life clock ticked, Jamie and I found we had a lot of time to wait, think and worry. Time sitting in doctors’ offices waiting to be seen. Hours each week in treatment rooms. Time waiting for operations. Time in recovery rooms. Time flying around the country for second, third opinions and trials.
In that time, we talked a lot about how Jamie wanted to raise awareness of colorectal cancer and funding for early screening. He also wanted to advocate for young colon cancer patients like himself.
He’d start off with, “When we get through this..” and he always believed he would. But even with the best medicine and doctors in the world, cancer is difficult. It adapts. And it is deadly.
6 days before he died, Jamie went on the radio for the last time. I walked him down to the basement where his broadcast equipment was. We had a stash of popsicles for his dry throat, and an ice water with a straw. I begged him to write something down, in case he was at a loss for words. He shook his head, and said “I’ve got it.”
Of course he did.
He had 19 months of time to think about what to say, and just 10 minutes of strength to get it out. He asked people to get a colonoscopy, to know their family history, to cherish their health. He didn’t want anyone else to have to go through what he did. Jamie vowed to keep fighting, which he did until he died.
For the last year and half since his death, I’ve heard from countless people who got colonoscopies because of Jamie. I’ve heard from doctors who tell me stories of people requesting screening because of Jamie. I’ve heard from patients fighting the cancer those colonoscopies found.
I know his powerful message is still making a difference, and it’s time for us to continue advocating on Jamie’s behalf.
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. I’ll be posting interviews on social media and my YouTube channel to bring awareness to early onset colorectal cancer, colonoscopy screening and the message of hope for patients and caregivers facing a CRC diagnosis.
All I ask, is that you share the posts with family and friends. Make that colonoscopy appointment, talk to your doctor. Colorectal cancer is treatable when caught in the early stages.
I wish we had that time back, the waiting room conversations, the long chemo days. It is a painful reminder there are no guarantees. But the good memories remain – and acute awareness to be grateful for the time that we have today.
To all the CRC caregivers and patients… KFG.