I've been a long-time lurker but this is my first and likely only post. I wanted to give some hope to those who have just been diagnosd at the 3C stage.
On Nov. 1 2013, my husband went for what I thought was a routine colonoscopy. (In Canada, you get a letter telling you to go for one when you turn 50, so it's very routine.) We were actually laughing about it. All of our similar-aged friends were going through the same thing regarding "the letter; everyone was relating their good results. My husband was a strapping, strong man, with good eating habits, good weight, non-smoker who drank only socially. So I was shocked when, driving my husband home from the hospital, he casually said, "So by the way, I do have colon cancer."
I was shocked.
Unknown to me, he'd been telling our family (female) doctor about some rather alarming symptoms for at least seven years at that point. She'd brushed him off over and over and over again, for years, telling him to eat more bran. She often joked about men being wimps when it came to health--the old "man-flu" type of thing that we often see in memes or TV commercials. She actually posted little cartoons about this on her wall. I was annoyed by her sexism but let it go. I shouldn't have. In retrospect, her sexist and misandric attitude was a big part of the reason my husband never sought a second opinion, never sought treatment earlier, and basically "shut up" and followed her direction. For years. As he told me later, he just didn't want to be seen as that man whining to his wife about where the cough syrup was. Since then, this common internet joke has never been funny to me.
That doctor changed to a new practice, and my husband was assigned a new (male) doctor. During the patient intake survey, he described the same symptoms he had for years. He didn't want to be labelled a wimp again, so he actually thought twice about listing these symptoms. But he did, thank God. The new doctor was actually "alarmed" (his words) and immediately sent my husband for a colonoscopy.
Long story short, DH was immediately diagnosed within two minutes of the colonscopy with Stage 3C Sigmoid colon cancer, and later with 13 of 24 lymph nodes positive, spots on his lungs and liver, and "something" that looked like cancer on his spine--it had been giving him pain for about a year. Things were not just grim, but presented to us as "get your affairs in order. We still had minor children. And, what I will never forgive our original doctor for, they said the cancer had been growing for about 10 years.
They never could figure out what exactly was on his spine, but it somehow disappeared after chemo. The pain went away. The liver spots were dismissed as cysts, and the lung spots just disappeared as well or were confirmed as benign. Three surgeries were involved in total (ask me if you want details) and 12 chemo treatments were administered. He had an emergency in which he almost died halfway through his chemo, and spent two weeks in hospital.
But today he's beat the odds. He's 6 years out from a diagnosis that gave him only an 8% chance of surviving 5 years. He has a few symptoms from chemo--a little numbness on his feet, a bit of chemo brain--but he's alive and well, literally no other symptoms since he had chemo. He never looked back.
Bottom line, just wanted other people to know there is hope--and never, ever, keep taking your doctor's word as final. Get a second opinion. And if your doctor mocks you for being a male complaining about a health problem, ask to switch to a new doctor. An online joke may not seem like much, but too many men already put off doctor's visits because they're mocked or believe they must be strong. Consider that.