There should be some limit drawn about what married couples share together, but the VanDuyns love togetherness.
They both had rectal surgery on the same day at the same hospital.
We need to be grownups today and talk about polyps and colonoscopies. Dan Bates / The Herald
Dan Bates / The Herald
During a colonoscopy, a physician inserts a long, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum and slowly guides it into your colon. The doctor examines the lining of the large intestine looking for signs of cancer or causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits.
TV host Katie Couric had a colonoscopy on the “Today Show.” In 1997, her husband, Jay Monahan, was diagnosed with colon cancer. He died at age 42, leaving two young daughters.
Couric testified before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Aging, saying: “During this terrible struggle, motivated by fear and desperation, I got a quick and painful education about this devastating disease. I learned that colon cancer is the second-leading cancer killer: 130,000 people are diagnosed with it every year; 56,000 of them die.”
She testified there is a 90 percent cure rate if detected early.
The VanDuyns said they are happy they had the test that revealed polyps.
Retired in Granite Falls, the couple was well aware of cancer checks because Dorothy VanDuyn, 75, had colon cancer, discovered after a colonoscopy, some 20 years ago. She is also a breast cancer survivor.
Forest VanDuyn, 79, who had gall bladder surgery, an appendectomy and heart surgery, understood the importance of having a colonoscopy.
“We preach to have the test,” Dorothy VanDuyn said. “Everybody should have it, at least by age 50.”
I admit, I haven’t had the test. My husband’s doctor wanted him to have a colonoscopy, but our insurance doesn’t cover it. One is paid for if there is an apparent problem, but not as a routine matter.
When both VanDuyns were found to have polyps, they decided to have the surgery at Providence Everett Medical Center in Everett on the same day.
“We got there at 9 a.m.,” Dorothy VanDuyn said. “They said, ‘Oh, you’re the two.’ “
They spent four days in the same room recovering. Long-time staff members could not recall post-operative couples ever bunking together. The surgery was no picnic, the couple said. At home, their grandson and daughter helped with their care. They walked around their patio and rode an exercise bike to regain their strength.
For those having a colonoscopy, there is fasting involved and cleansing of the colon. It’s worth the inconvenience.
Folks with relatives who had rectal cancer should have colonoscopies 10 years before their relative was diagnosed. Dr. J. William Finley, a surgeon with The Everett Clinic, said if someone had rectal cancer at age 45, for example, the relative should have a colonoscopy at age 35.
Finley and his partner, Dr. Timothy Graves, operated on the VanDuyns. It was the first time they performed surgery on a married couple on the same day, Finley said.
The VanDuyns, married for 56 years, both recommend that folks have proper medical tests. They both manage type 2 diabetes.
“We do everything together,” they said.
Columnist Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451 or firstname.lastname@example.org.