Obits that talk to you….

I am a longtime reader of the obituary column in the Baltimore Sun….I don’t really expect to see someone I know there, usually, though I’ve been surprised more than once. And a well written obit is a thing of beauty really….it several hundred words it captures a little window into a life…tales of exploits in WWII, incredible accomplishments, funny stories from the people who loved them. Those kind of obits are a little gift to everyone, even those of us who never even met the person, especially when they are written by the Sun’s Frederick Rasmussen, who brings the deceased back to life,  in print.

And once in a while, there is obituary that speaks volumes to all of us.  One that says, learn from me….get something from this…don’t let this be your story.  I read one such obit this morning in the Sun about a smart, unbelievably accomplished woman of 50, who died from colorectal cancer.  Anne Talbot Brennan was a lawyer, a mother of three girls…the youngest an 8th grader…a wife, a daughter, a sister.  And someone who became a colorectal cancer activist, after being diagnosed with an advanced stage of the disease, four years ago. And I’m sure she probably had some symtoms that being a super busy working wife and mother, put off seeing to, for too long. How many of us do exactly the same….oh, it’s probably nothing, I really don’t time to go to the doctor, much less get a colonoscopy, for Pete’s sake…that’ll take the better part of a whole day!

And I think Anne Brennan must have said to many, in her years of being an activist to raise awareness of the disease and support for its victims, and I think she wanted me to take this chance to say…don’t let this happen to you. Don’t let your life get cut short by a disease that should have been caught earlier. You have the time to be tested. Make the damn time.

My dear, dear Father-in-law, who never had a colonoscopy by the way, developed colorectal cancer a few years back. He was lucky…they found it in time for surgery to save him. Inexplicably, I don’t think either of my sisters-in-law have ever had a screening test…even they are both over 50, and both at greater risk having a family history of the disease.  I can’t believe it.

So this Thursday at 10 am, as Anne’s family says goodbye to a brilliant attorney who was so much more than that to them, to a woman established a central resource center at Hopkins to help patients, and started successful fundraisers for the Colon Cancer Alliance….let this be her message to you. If you’re 50 or younger with a family history of colorectal cancer…call right now and schedule a colonoscopy. And if you’re having some ongoing  symptoms…don’t just sit there another day, thinking you’re just too busy to see about it.  Do yourself and your family a favor and get thee to a doctor, and insist on a colonoscopy.


6 Responses

  1. Have you ever read Dave Barry’s article on this topic? He does a good job explaining why he, and I am sure many others, do not get a colonoscopy at 50. Plus it is very funny…though parts are a little graphic.
    Check it out:

  2. Donna,

    Wow! As a fellow reader of the Baltimore Sun’s obituaries, I had pretty much the same thoughts as you did when I read Ms. Hardy’s obit. While I’m still shy of 50, I have had a colonoscopy in the past. Easy procedure and even the prep isn’t as bad as everyone tends to make it out to be. (Actually the prep is a small price to pay for the peace of mind the test will give you.) Between the obituary this morning and your column, I will be calling my doctor to schedule an appointment for a check up.

    As always, love your blogs! Keep up the great work!


  3. Donna – I have been reading and enjoying your blog from the very beginning and many times have wanted to send a reply. I feel especially compelled now since I have made just my first appt for a consultation for a colonoscopy. As a busy working mother of 2 teenage daughters, this blog hit pretty close to home. There is a history of colorectal issues in my family and I have put this off for a couple of years, because, as you said, too busy, no symptoms, etc, etc. Thanks for the reminder and keep up the good blogs!

  4. Donna, I lost my grandmother from hereditary colorector cancer, no one had had it before in her family so now the family must be tested. The 1st time I had the test, I was “goosed” before going to sleep – the 2nd time I had the test, I woke up during the test and it was interesting – my prob lem, getting someone to accompany me so I can get home – so the last time I had it, I asked if I could do it awake – my dr told me I had to behave – it was amazing watching the procedure and seeing what the dr was seeing – what was great, there was no discomfort from the iv, no discomfort from sedation, no problem getting home by my self … keep up the good work – love the blogs

  5. Donna, thank you for writing such an important blog. Please, please, please go get tested. As the daughter to a parent who was diagnosed on 12/12, I can’t stress how important this is. My dad turned 50 in October, and what the doctors thought was pneumonia turned out to be so much more….Stage Four colon cancer that has spead to the liver….not even operable. My dad does not even have a family history, so please….just go and make an appointment!! Your family will thank you….

  6. I am so glad to see someone else appreciates Frederick Rasmussen’s skilfully written and always intriguing obituaries. It is a relief still to see his byline in the Sun after the recent layoffs.

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