The VigilanceVoice
Friday-- April 19, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 220

Colonoscopy Terror Vs. Cancer Vigilance
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

        GROUND ZERO, New York City, April 19--  What if I were to propose that there is distinct link between colon cancer and Osama bin Laden?
        And further, what if I were to maintain that Terrorism akin to that America experienced on September 11, is the chief cause of undetected cancer of many kinds.
         I'm not a scientist or a politician or a medical expert so don't expect me to try and bury you in a pile of statistics flogging you to death with one more reason why you need to stay Vigilant to ward off cancer.
         Instead, I'm going to talk simply and personally about Cancer Terrorism--the kind that sneaks up on you when you least expect it and drops a suicide bomber into your guts or breast or lungs or uterus or colon.  
         Such Terrorism begins with a statement similar to this:  "No way.  I'm never gonna let some doctor put one of those things up my butt! No way!"
         That was me--my statement prior to being diagnosed with colon cancer..
         Frightened, homophobic, intimidated and absolutely complacent about having anyone check out the status of my colon, I chose to turn my back on the issue just as prior to September 11 the vast majority of Americans gave no to little concern we all could be victims of "third-world Terrorism."
         Just  hearing someone talk about the colonoscopy procedure made me run  the other way, knotted my insides, and drove my palms to smother my ears as though the speaker was slowly dragging his or her fingernails down a blackboard.
         The macho man in me--former Marine, six-foot-four, 265lbs, deep Voiced, heterosexual, conservative republican--vehemently repelled the idea of humiliating myself to such a test no matter how vital it might be to my well being.  I was Terrorized into non-action--a common state we all retreat to when we wish to avoid the unpleasant.
          Unfortunately, I wasn't alone in such thinking.   Most of the "guys" I hung out with were like Steve Martin and John Candy in the movie Trains, Planes and Automobiles when the two actors were forced to sleep together in a motel and awoke, startled, and began to gruff and huff out their masculinity so neither might think the other was "light in the loafers."
          Ego and fear kills a lot of guys like me, and also an equal portion of gals who run the other way when the idea of someone looking into their most private original sanctuary--the bowels--looms.
          My Terrorism and resulting Complacency about a colonoscopy almost cost me my life.
          The day of reckoning--my Nine Eleven--was January 15, Martin Luther King Day, 1995.   I was climbing the stairs in my beautiful Laguna Niguel, California, thirty-six-hundred square foot home when I fell to my knees, gasping.   No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't pull myself to my feet.  
         My kneecaps became Jell-O.
         The room started to spin.  I shook it off, clutching the railing, trying to regain some strength over the sudden collapse of my body.   For months I had been taking iron pills to combat physical malaise..  My doctor, who at the time was in the midst of a Phen-Phen diet, overlooked the issue of my colon when I complained of feeling run down.   He performed the common stool  Guaiac test, and since no blood showed up he diagnosed my problem as an iron deficiency.
         Later, I would learn that if there is a problem with the colon one bleeds intermittently, making it highly probable to pass the "blood-in-the-stool" test if the day one does the test the colon isn't bleeding.  
         Once I began boosting myself with  iron pills, they masked any signs of blood.   
         During the "treatment time" for iron deficiency my body was grinding down.  I had been sucking on Siberian ginseng and wolfing down vitamins to overcome the daily drain I felt of my energy.   I found myself plodding through the day, growing ever weaker.
         On Martin Luther King Day seven years ago, when I couldn't right myself at the top of the stairs, I knew I was in deep trouble.   My first thought was I was suffering from a peptic ulcer because I was burping and feeling nauseous.  Little did I know then I was bleeding to death.
        After I collapsed, my wife rushed me to the doctor.  My hemoglobin had dropped to dangerous level of six.  A healthy man averages between 15 and 18.
         Immediately, I was placed in the hospital.  A colonoscopy was performed.    I had colon cancer--bad.  
        The blood loss was so great they had to pump four pints into me prior to the operation.  The surgeon sliced out a chunk of my intestine and sowed it back.  I underwent chemotherapy for a year following surgery.
        My story is not uncommon.   I was Terrorized by the idea of the "test," and avoided it to the brinks of my own near demise. 
         My fear and ego  conspired to the point of nearly killing me.
         I certainly didn't apply the principles of Vigilance toward my body, or protecting it from harm.   Instead, I became complacent and allowed the threat of cancer to overcome sound protection against a very insidious and dangerous disease that attacks both men and women with equal ferocity and surprise.
         As a rugged individualist, I naturally abhor authority when it is placed on me against my will.   "Having to go to the doctor," is one of those issues I fight.    Surprisingly, nearly one-third of the U.S. population has never seen a doctor as an adult, and not just because they can't afford it, but primarily because they fear what a doctor might say, or have some deep-seeded mistrust of them.
         In my case, the Terror of having someone "invade my bowel's privacy" was an overpowering thought which made me shy from promoting my doctor to give me such a test..    After all, I was healthy, strong, vibrant prior to my body suddenly running down.  Why should I humiliate myself, I thought.
         I was a victim of  Terroristic Thinking.  I learned a lot about humility during the course of my bout with cancer, and especially the need for Vigilance when it comes to certain prophylactic tests that can detect early signs of cancer and help one not let the problem turn into a life-threatening crisis.
         For a man or woman over forty, and certainly no later than fifty, a colonoscopy is a must.   Detecting any signs of the disease can stop its growth and contain it so that surgery may not be necessary.
          Cancer, I found, is one of those "it can't happen to me" diseases.   In my case there was no history of the disease on either side of my family.   No one I was aware of had ever died from it, or, been its victim.   That gave me a false sense of security when it came down to the issue of checking myself against the disease.
           Women face a double threat since they are attacked by colon cancer on an equal rate as are men.   In addition to the colon, they must stand Vigilant against the specter of breast cancer, annually receiving a mammogram and looking for lumps that might indicate warning signs.
          Where the true problem lies is its danger to a person's children.   Once one has such a disease, the odds that one's children might be vulnerable to its attack dramatically increases.
           I could parade a host of statistics out on the table of men and women who, like me, refused or didn't demand such tests by their doctors.  You can take a deep breath.  I'm not going to do that.
          But I will talk a bit about the need to become a Parent of Vigilance to your own body.
         If one thinks about it, cancer is nothing more than a Terrorist inside your body, lurking, stalking, waiting to attack.
        No one can say exactly where cancer originates, but once it takes root it has a voracious appetite to kill its most fierce enemies--living, thriving cells.
       It is like a suicide bomber or the 19 Terrorists who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.
       Its purpose is to strangle the life out of the unsuspecting, and it preys on one's Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
       Cancer for me was all about the unknown, the unexpected.   I was ambushed by it.  I was raped and ravaged by its insidiousness, and my own lack of Vigilance to protect myself from its growth within.
        As with our nation's attitude against Terrorism, the Complacent thinking that "it can't happen to me," opens the door to its ease of entrance.   In a way, cancer is alive in its thinking, always Vigilant for the weakness within the body it can attack and permutated itself.
        Osama bin Laden's al-Queda is composed of cells, not unlike cancer cells.  They are perched in various sectors of America and the world waiting for the right moment to attack, for some weakness to present itself so they can rush in and destroy the living and expand the dead, leaving in their wake a hollow emptiness that makes those around its epicenter live in Fear, Intimidation and feel Complacent that they are powerless to stop it.
        In so many ways human Terrorism is exactly like cancer's Terrorism.   In both cases one finds it difficult to accept he or she can be its victim, and, as is common with both cancer and Terrorism, tends to turn their back on its potential to attack "them," to single them out of the "crowd."
       I certainly felt that way.   Even when I was told I had cancer my mind refused to accept the facts.   It took hours before the truth sank in, and the cold shockwaves of my mortality loomed before me.
      Yesterday, I wrote a story about a man who bled to death in my arms in Vietnam, a and how he clutched me in his final gasp of life and choked out the words:  "Why me?  Why not you?"
       I felt the same way about cancer.  "Why me?  Why not you?"
       A Steve Martin movie fan, I am reminded of the scene in our family's favorite movie, The Jerk, when an angry psychopath stabs his finger into a phone book and spears Steve Martin's name randomly.   The man is looking for anyone, no one in particular, to vent his rage upon.  He has a hunting rifle and is planning to seek out the person he calls "random bastard" to deliver them a bullet.  
      While the movie is full of uproarious scenes, that particular one is about as close as one can get to the impact of Terrorism upon the unsuspecting.    People who acquire cancer are, as The Jerk so humorously portrays, just "random bastards."
      That makes facing the dangers of cancer or, for that matter, Terrorism, more difficult.    "Why me?  Why not you?"
       It is so much easier for one to think:  "That can't happen to me!"   But it can.  It does.  And it will.
      Vigilance is about "expecting the unexpected."   It involves the them:  "Ready for anything counting on nothing."   To be vigilant, one cannot exclude any potential threat to one's well being, or to that of his or her loved ones.   At the same time there is a matter of balance required for healthy living.   One must not go overboard and enter the realm of paranoia where everything poses such a threat that one lives in the ice jambs of fear, frozen into a state of Complacency where no action is taken because the worrying dominates the mind.
      What is healthy is to "expect the unexpected," to believe that one is ultimately powerless over the attack of a cancer cell or a Terrorist.   But, one can protect himself or herself from the damages that might result in case of such a confrontation with Terror.
      A child's self worth, for example, is a ripe target for the Cancer of Terrorism.   Tiny cells of self-worthlessness and self-depreciation can begin to gnaw at a child's belief in his or her dreams unless those dreams are nurtured by a parent or loved one.   
      Children have many fears, rampant intimidations, and often these grow into the cancer of Complacency where a child feels he or she is stuck in a rut, a victim of circumstances based on how he or she is trained to think.  A skinny child might come to believe he or she is abnormal, or a fat child resign himself or herself to a world of hiding behind food, or an abused child might take up gauntlet of personal Terrorism as retaliatory action against not receiving the love and affection children so desperately need in their formative years.
       Parents who are too busy to become "friends" with their child may radar to them an indifference which creates walls of isolation between the two generations. This lack of parenting causes the child to feel he or she must act out of defiance rather than conciliation around the home front, and rather than bonding to the power of love, grow up disenfranchised from his or her parents and act out in such ways as to become "trouble" rather than "joy."
       Cancers of the Emotion as well as Physical state of mind and body thrive on separation between parties.  I held fast to my premise that I knew more than the medical profession about my own health.  I was wrong.   Had I been Vigilant, I would have insisted on a colonoscopy years before I was attacked, just as the United States learned its alleged security was faulty because it felt "insulated" from attack by a Third World force.
      If we have learned one lesson from September 11th, let it be Vigilance in all of our thinking.  
     America has been diagnosed with cancer as a result of Nine Eleven.   All 300 million of us know now that we can awaken to a new disaster. Our shells of security have been cracked.   No longer can we say, "why me, why not you?"
     Cancer doesn't care much for personalities. Neither does Terrorism.   It can kill anyone at anytime at its whim--with one major exception.
     It shies away from those who are Vigilant.
     It attacks weakness not strength.
     It feeds off Complacency.
     If you are in your forties or early fifties and you've never had a colonoscopy for whatever reason, stop and give it another look.   What if you imagined that Osama bin Laden was hiding in your body, and he was a mere tiny cell full of decay and destruction, just waiting to attack you internally without your knowledge.    Under these conditions, would you consider it prudent to have your Sentinel of Vigilant doctor perform an intelligence mission to root out the hiding place, and, if at all possible, attack and destroy the "evil within" before it could grow?
      I believe our attitude toward defending ourselves against Cancer is not unlike the attitude necessary to combat Terrorism.
     If you haven't, go get a colonoscopy .....or a mammogram.   Don't wait until your body faces a September 11th disaster.  It just might be too late then.

 Go To April 18--Sorrow On Independence Day

©2001 - 2004,, All rights reserved -  a ((HYYPE)) design