RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – How many 54-year-olds do you know keep a diaper under their desk?

I do.

Why? Because of the lingering side effects of colon cancer. Yes, I never know when a disaster might strike, so the adult disposable Pampers-like diaper is kept in a bag – along with a change of clothes.

Don’t put yourself in this position. If you are age 50 or over or have a history of cancer in your family, be sure to get screened. The life you save with a colonoscopy may be your own.

Given a second chance at life, I wanted to share in recent blogs parts of my own cancer experience (such as calling myself an idiot) with the hope that perhaps by discussing my own idiocy in not having a colonoscopy earlier, others would read it and be tested.

Several people wrote me, and I appreciate so much their thoughts, cares and prayers. One person whose husband is fighting colon cancer and I have exchanged e-mails, including my sharing of some experiences about the need to fight positively and aggressively.

“Just read your e-mail and the articles; you have made me feel so much better,” she wrote. “Thanks so much for responding and for sending this info. … And I wanted to tell you not to beat yourself up about waiting to have the colonoscopy. My husband has had regular colonoscopies since age 50; he had one three years ago and they told him everything looked fine, so come back in three years.

“So you see that if it is meant to be, it will be regardless of how diligent you are,” she added. “My husband talked to a guy at Ace Hardware who is also undergoing chemo for colon cancer and he was very reassured by the lack of problems the man reported. So here we go.”

Another gentleman, a minister, shared his story. He refuses to surrender.

“I have recently been diagnosed with cancer. We first thought it was melanoma, then thyroid cancer. After the removal of my thyroid, they discovered that the cancer actually originated in my lung – atypical carcinoid tumors. The doctors at UNC Hospitals are in the final stages of making decisions as to what comes first, surgery or chemotherapy. It looks likely that both will be involved,” he wrote.

“As you said, a strong support network is vital. I am a minister and high school guidance counselor. My church family, my school family and my community families – not to mention my own family – have rallied around me, and I around them. Together, we will do all that we can do, and leave to God the things over which we have no control.

“I shall lift you up in prayer, and ask that you do the same for me.

“God bless you for sharing your thoughts. God has used them today to bless me!”

A nurse chose to share her thoughts – and a warning.

“I am a GI nurse and have been for 36 years. I was very impressed at your candid approach to telling your story of surviving colon cancer. I used to work at Rex Hospital and helped run the Colon Cancer Screening Event they had every March. I preach your message to every patient who graces the doors of our office. Thank you for sharing your story. Maybe some other ‘idiot’ will get the message in time to save his life.”

Then there is the wife whose husband is fighting leukemia:

“I just read your blog and the letter you wrote to the person that was facing chemo treatments.

“I agree with everything you said. My husband was diagnosed with leukemia almost three years ago. He was given treatments over a period of six months and then took the chemo pill for a year. We are very strong in our faith and that is what got us through that and a lot of people praying for him. He never missed a day of work when he started taking the treatments and still continues to work today, 10 hours a day, six and seven days a week.

“We go to Duke every three months for check-ups, and so far things are going good. We give all the credit to the Lord and good doctors.”


Even if you are sick or someone you know is ill, keep up the fight. Never surrender. Never quit, just as Jimmy Valvano and so many other people have said.

As for colon cancer, “Awareness Month” is over, but diligence can never end.

Get screened today! Don’t be an in idiot like me.

Keeping a diaper under the desk is NOT something you ever want to have to do.

(By the way, if you have a cancer experience you want to share, I’d love to hear from you ).