Before my sister was diagnosed with colon cancer, it seemed as if she was constantly coming down with colds and sinus infections. She regularly visited her family doctor because she simply couldn’t shake Strep throat either.
I can’t help but wonder — were the illnesses an indication of the colon cancer? Of course, no one can say. But she hasn’t had Strep since the surgery. [I realize I am completely ignorant of the science behind all this.]
Every year, more often and and multiple times throughout the year, for the past 4-5 years (but even before that), I’ve had my own chronic sinus infections, and last year, I even had walking pneumonia. I don’t present (or test positive) for allergies. No asthma.
Now, I’m wondering. These colds — each time — are they a sign of a cancer unnoticed?
I keep telling myself. The statistics for MSH6 Lynch mutation indicate that we aren’t at as high a risk as other mutations. Only uterine cancer is higher for MSH6. [But my aunt had ovarian cancer at age 46.]
My paternal great-grandparents.
My paternal grandparents.
Of my grandmother’s 7 brothers and sister, 6 developed colon cancer.
Roughly 63% of tested relatives from my dad’s generation tested positive for Lynch. They all have had cancer.
From my generation, two have already had cancer — both under the age of 40. And 75% of the relatives in my generation who have been tested also tested positive for Lynch.
Running list of Lynch cancers (and others) my family members have developed:
Some of the Lynch cancers are considered so rare, that — I am told by some doctors — I don’t even need to worry about them. The research, the numbers, say so.
But I am learning that statistics aren’t as accurate in representing reality as I had been taught.
According to the statistics, my sister shouldn’t have had colon cancer (yet). I shouldn’t be developing polyps in my right colon (yet). But that isn’t the reality we are living.
My anxiety level is running high tonight. I don’t know why. Dr. Jasmine wants me to use my CBT Thought Record at these times.
Where are you:
I’m at home. It is night I have another sinus infection.
I feel anxious, worried, a little depressed.
Negative automatic thought:
I have cancer. I just don’t test positive for it. Yet.
Evidence that supports the thought:
I seem to catch colds easily. I don’t fully recover. My sister had the same situation. She had colon cancer. I have colon cancer. The statistics aren’t accurate.
Evidence that does not support the thought:
My gastroenterologist did not find any other polyps. He removed the one he did. It wasn’t even precancerous. All blood tests and urinalysis tests have come back negative.
I feel tired because I have a cold, I’m coping with my anxiety and depression, and the semester just began. I have 3 young children and they bring home lots of germs. And I teach college students during the day at work.
This is normal. And my family doctor often reminds me that I can’t waste my life worrying — syndrome or no syndrome.
Emotion or feeling:
I’m not buying it.
I’m a dead woman walking.