Just want to clarify/comment on a few things that have been running around this thread:
1) ANAL/COLORECTAL CANCER
Although anal and colorectal cancer share a lot of the same issues (hey, let's all talk about our butts!), they are different cancers. As Dr. Jeff wrote earlier, anal cancer is a different pathology. It is caused by HPV, the same virus that can cause cervical cancer. There are many types of HPV (about 100) and MANY people get HPV - according to the CDC, approximately 50% of sexually active people will contract HPV at least once in their lifetime, although HPV usually "cures" itself in time. In some uncommon situations, some types of HPV can develop into cervical, anal, and penile cancer, among other types of cancer.
To find out more about HPV, check out the Centers for Disease Control website: http://www.cdc.gov/std/HPV/STDFact-HPV.htm#common
I didn't know about the supposed link between CRC and HPV, but my initial reaction is that it's probably not as big a thing as it seems. Since so many people have HPV on a "regular" basis, and since having cancer could definitely compromise a person's ability to get rid of HPV naturally, there may not be a causal relationship. I would like to see more about this - Jeff (or anyone else), please let me know what you find out about this.
2) ELLEN DEGENERES
Funny that someone emailed Ellen! She actually had polyps removed and has talked about her colon on her show (although not enough for my taste of course!). I would LOVE to see her have a young colorectal cancer survivor on her show, so keep emailing her!
3) RADIATION FOR COLON/RECTAL CANCER
Radiation is NOT common for colon cancer - it is primarily used in rectal cancer, although it is occasionally used in very specific situations to treat colon cancer.
4) FAMOUS OSTOMATES
More famous people with ostomies (although not all from colorectal cancer):
- Tony Award-winning actress Barbara Barrie (aka Nana from Suddenly Susan). She is extremely open about it and wrote the book "Don't Die of Embarassment: Life After Colostomy" - a great, funny book about her life after getting an ostomy following rectal cancer. I highly recommend it and you can buy it here: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/bookse ... 846248&itm
- Rolf Bernischke, ex-kicker for the San Diego Chargers - he started the Great Comeback Awards www.greatcomebacks.com
- Marvin Bush (brother of President George W. Bush), Bob Hope, Former House Speaker Tip O'Neal, Dwight Eisenhower, Hubert Humphrey, Queen Elizabeth II
5) OSTOMIES/FRUSTRATION WITH MEDICAL CHOICES
Ostomies are becoming less common than they used to be, but are certainly not rare. Better pre-surgical options (radiation and chemo) to shrink tumors and better surgical procedures are generally to credit with this. However, regardless of these advances, many people still need temporary or permanent ostomies. It is not the end of the world, but it can be difficult and very frustrating for the people who need the ostomy as well as those who care for them. I understand this - it is very frustrating to me that my cousin might still be alive today if the chemo and surgical options that are available now were available just six or seven years ago. I think about it often, and I definitely feel some resentment. But I believe that all of our challenge as survivors/caregivers/friends/family is to not take our personal frustrations about the past out on those who are able to benefit from things now. Farrah Fawcett, and anyone else who is facing any type of cancer, needs our support regardless of what is happening or what has happened to others.
6) LAST QUICK NOTE...
People with more money, better insurance, and better doctors often are better educated and have more medical choices than people without those things. It's not fair and I don't like it, but that is the reality. The best thing that we can all do for ourselves and for those we love is to educate ourselves about ALL of the treatment options for any illness. Knowing the options is the first (but certainly not the last!) step in getting the best care for you or for someone you love.
Hannah K. Vogler
Co-Founder, The Colon Club
cousin of Amanda Sherwood Roberts
dx 1/99 Stage III at age 24
died January 1, 2002 at age 27