Archived Story

5 reasons to get a colonoscopy this month

Published 9:31am Friday, March 7, 2014

Things I Tell My Wife, by Matthew Knutson

“Any tips on making this column about colonoscopies awesome?” I asked Sera before I started writing these words. She had no advice.

Matthew Knutson
Matthew Knutson

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and everyone is super pumped about getting screened.

Well, maybe not everyone. In fact, colon cancer screenings aren’t high up on most people’s to-do lists. The colonoscopy isn’t the only screening method, but it is the one that doctors recommend the most often.

Screening should take place at age 50 or sooner if you have a family history of colon cancer (that’s me) or are experiencing symptoms like abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or chronic constipation to name a few. Your doctor will know more about other symptoms than I do.

Why do people not want to get a colonoscopy? There are a few reasons, but the procedure itself normally isn’t bad. The prep is what most people dislike, which basically means taking a laxative to empty your colon. I’m pretty sure my mom said hers had lime flavoring, which may explain why I haven’t seen her have anything lime flavored in years.

So yeah, it’s not the most pleasant thing to do, but there are certainly things that are worse. Below you’ll find my list of five awesome reasons to get a colonoscopy.

5. You get to miss a day of work! Why would you rather be at the office suffering through another long meeting on the same topic that you’ve been discussing for months when you could be asleep at the doctor’s office? Sleep or work, you decide.

4. You’ll lose weight! I don’t recommend the colonoscopy weight loss plan (and I’m sure doctors don’t either), but the process of clearing out your colon will certainly mean you’re a bit lighter after the laxative than before. What a nice perk! Downside: You will gain back that tiny amount of weight lost incredibly quickly. Let’s not focus on that right now though.

3. All your friends will look up to you! Think they’ve had a colonoscopy yet? Probably not. You have the perfect opportunity to feel like a senior in high school again, setting all the trends. Being the first to get a colonoscopy in your peer group pretty much puts you on the same level as a hipster. At least that’s what hipsters would say if they talked about how they were hipsters.

2. You’ll get to see an awesome photo of yourself! Everyone’s tired of selfies. I’m pretty sure the new Instagram trend will be heavily filtered colonoscopy photos. You heard it here first. (Note, I’m not sure if you actually get to see the images of your colon afterwards. Check with your doctor if that’s something you really desire.)

1. If you have colon cancer, it can be detected. As much as the others might entice you, this is probably the real reason you should get a colonoscopy. Screening saves lives, and that’s probably better than an Instagrammed version of your colon in the long run.

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S., and if people get screened early, their chances of survival go way up. There are more than one million survivors in the U.S. right now, and I’d love to see that number go up. I think you probably would, too.

Colon Cancer Awareness Month was first started in 2000, and since then many lives have been saved by people stepping out of their comfort zone and getting screened and encouraging their family and friends to do the same thing. It doesn’t cost you anything to talk about colon cancer screening. Don’t let your silence cost someone else their life.

Matthew Knutson is a marketing specialist at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa. Find him online at thingsitellmywife.tumblr.com.