By Steve Crabtree
Would you go didi boppiní down a trial, whistling a tune & making all the noise in the world? Would you go into combat wearing bright orange or red? Would you bed down at night without first setting out the Claymores? The answer to these three questions is, of course not. Guys, weíre facing an enemy far stronger and much more deadly than the North Vietnamese ever dreamed of being. Itís time for a perimeter check.
About three & a half years ago Lori took me into the Emergency Room with abdominal pains. After I ripped the chair I was sitting in apart from the pain they finally gave me a shot of Demerol. The pain subsided and I went home. About six months later my wife, daughter and I were on the way to one of the Indian Casinos when pain hit again. As we were half way there they pulled into a 7-11 and bought me a quart of beer, told me to get in the back seat and shut up. I did, we went on and I won a $2100 jackpot. That made me forget the pain. Several months later the pain hit again. Lori rushed me to the ER and they did an ultrasound. It showed nothing. I went to see the doctor and told him of the pain. He scheduled an upper & lower GI (Barium ingested into the stomach, injected into the colon and followed by X-rays). They showed nothing. The next procedure was a CT scan of the abdomen. Again negative. The doctor reported to me, ďAt least you donít have to worry about having Cancer!Ē Eleven days later a Colonoscapy (A small hose with a camera on the end is inserted into the colon) was performed. I woke up to find my wife crying over me and the doctorís face ashen. I had Colon Cancer.
I was operated on the next day. The operation removed ten inches of my colon and a fist sized malignant tumor. I spent eleven days in the hospital, went home, and went back into the hospital two more times before I came home for good. Six months later I went back to work. That is, after 30 injections of chemotherapy and 25 doses of radiation. I just returned from San Diego and the UCSD Veteransí Hospital there where I had a PET Scan performed. I am now and have been cancer free for two years and nineteen days.
So why would I want to bore your socks off with my story? Itís not my story; itís our story. Richie Burns died last October. Last December I attended Tony Peroskieís funeral. I went to see an old college professor, Jon Borland, last month and attended his funeral last week. Monday there was an e-mail on my computer from Bob Simpson. Bobís doctors have given him four to six months to live. What do all these men have in common? They all served in Vietnam where Agent Orange was used as a defoliant. Tony had Lung Cancer as does Bob. Richie and Jon died from Colon Cancer. If I can make one of you aware of the probability of cancer and get you to act on it, then my quest is successful. Early diagnosis and treatment is the only way cancer can be defeated. If I havenít bored you to sleep yet, Iíd like to leave you with two thoughts:
1. When the last Vietnam Veteran dies the slate will tell that the United States Government killed more of itís own men than the North Vietnamese Army ever dreamed of, and:
2. Now that weíre all over the age of fifty, if you donít get pre-cancer checks (colonoscapy, PET scan, CT scan, etc.) on a regular basis, youíre playing Russian Roulette with five rounds in a six round chamber.
Note: The Veterans Administration still refuses to acknowledge Colon Cancer as a direct result of exposure to Agent Orange.