If “Attitude Not Aptitude Determines Altitude”, then thus is the story of me, Edel Blumberg. As a 2½ time Colon Cancer survivor, I feel I have garnished the attitude that allows me to speak from experience on the virtues of positive thinking. I will clarify the 2½ times! The battles with cancer are difficult by itself. But my real story begins at the end… it goes back to my youth. I will explain, and hope that “MY STORY” will never become “YOUR STORY”!
The surgery, the doctor’s, the chemotherapy treatments. All together, these hurdles are difficult to climb. I am living, breathing proof that a positive outlook, a positive environment, and a positive attitude can lift you to heights one never believed possible. 11 years ago, at 47 years of age I was diagnosed with a grade 3, 6½ cm tumor. After removal of the tumor, and subsequent resection, I embarked what I believe to be the most difficult challenge I’d ever faced… chemotherapy! A year of my life later, and I was on my way to recovery. And for the next three years I lived healthy, happy, and feeling over the dilemma. Until once again in 2006, I was diagnosed with another 6½ cm tumor, stage 4 in my colon. The chemotherapy that followed surgery was twice as difficult as the previous treatments, and thus the mountain I had to climb became steeper. One thousand hours of treatment later, I survived. Another year of my life, gone. Again, the power of positive thinking, along with a wonderful support system helped me to endure. So seven years pass, and I’m feeling fine. I felt fine, and had hoped, very positively hoped, that I was on the path to full recovery. My prevailing attitude of “never say never”, and “never quit”, was helping get me there.
Then I guess you could say “Chapter 3” happened in my ongoing saga. There I was August 2013, seven years removed from my second bout with colon cancer, out and about, playing golf and enjoying where I was in space and time. The call comes in. When the doctor calls, who you know well, and he leaves a message to call him back… usually not good. I had high grade dysplasia, he told me. What does that mean I asked? It meant I was a doorstep away from my third bout with colon cancer and this time it was a wakeup call of the highest proportion. This diagnosis would rattle my life perhaps like no other. Total and full colectomy he indicated. The surgeon I was referred to conferred. This WAS my “WORST NIGHTMARE”! Not cancer, for who really thinks of getting cancer when you’re young and feel invincible. I always felt I could beat cancer. No, for me it was having your colon removed. Wearing an apparatus on your hip for the rest of your life. Yes, a bag… my worst nightmare… always the first question I posed to my wife after each and every surgical resection. Now I got it! It was like the cycle of life, but without the birth and death part. This was what I was running from, hiding from this whole time. Not following up with doctors , kidding myself. This was the fearful stopping off point of my life. My life was running from this final destination, my final completion to this part of the cycle of my life. I was like a mouse running on a wheel. Always running to catch up with its tail, but always leaving it wagging behind.
An ending has to have a beginning, and that’s where my story, and my message really takes shape. See I was 13 when I was diagnosed with Colitis, 14 when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s & 15 when I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disorder. For the next 22 years I forged and lived a lie. I was afraid of my illness. Embarrassed by it, I hid the truth from my family, from my friends, and most importantly from ME! Oh I went for checkups and colonoscopy’s…sometimes. Other times I hoped it had gone away. I hoped I had seen the last of it. I was afraid for what the doctor’s “might say”. When I was a youth, I spent more time hiding in bathrooms and running away from my problem, then confronting it. All those emotions confounded me. So when I felt good I “assumed” it was over, finished, gone! I stopped going for those annual checkups. My last colonoscopy was four years before my cancer was discovered. My doctor at that time told me the tumor probably had been in my body for a year to year and a half. If… I had kept up my checkups, if… I had gone every year like someone who was supposed to with a chronic illness since 13, and if… I hadn’t hid from the truth, could I have prevented it from getting to where it eventually got? I believe so… you should believe so. Testing is the best form of prevention. The colon Cancer slogan is “Preventable, Treatable, Beatable”. How true that really is. I KNOW, as mentioned earlier, I speak from experience!! One can never look back, for reaching back for yesterday can make you miss the tomorrows. But you can learn from them. My message is clear. I hope that the right attitude about testing, about checkups, about dealing with this kind of illness will ring loud & true. For as mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t want “My Story to become Your Story”!
I am a 58 year old male. I have been an Insurance Executive for 31 years. Married for 30 years. And most proud of the fact that I’m a father of 2 beautiful daughters.