Madison County Opinion...

MAY 21, 2003


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
May 21, 2003

Frankly Speaking
Remember and honor those who sacrificed for you
What holiday are we celebrating on Monday, May 26? Far too many of you only know it is a holiday because the banks and post office are closed. Others of you care only that you get a day off with pay.
Monday is a very special day. No, it is not the day to celebrate beer and barbecue. It is Memorial Day in America, a day for remembering.
Every generation of Americans has had to face losses in war time. Hundreds of thousands of our past and present soldiers have died, been seriously injured, imprisoned or tortured. They have suffered the effects of combat from Bunker Hill to Tikrit. Many are still giving as they struggle to recover their health and sanity. Some may still be sitting in POW camps wondering when or if they will ever be rescued.
Military cemeteries in Europe, Asia and across America are filled with men and women who gave their lives in defense of liberty. Our hospitals and nursing homes contain many others who suffer physical and emotional injuries. It is fitting that we set aside one day each year to remember their sacrifices.
Now, I realize that lots of other things are going on. Memorial Day marks the start of the summer season. The end of the school year, the beginning of vacation travel and greater outdoor activity adds to the day. We are all ready for a change of pace, a season of fun and adventure, “the first day of the rest of our lives.” But we will never properly celebrate our future without paying homage to the past and present sacrifices that make the season possible.
So, while you are cooking out on that new grill, casting a line into the water of nearby rivers, or enjoying a cold drink in front of the TV, be aware of the thousands of soldiers who died to give you that opportunity.
Without their sacrifices, you might just as likely be working in a forced labor camp to satisfy the whim of some dictator. You might have been forced to witness the abuse of your family by armed thugs. Or your own life may have been cut short because you said the wrong thing to some government official.
We Americans have the greatest freedom of any people on earth only because some of us were willing to die for it. Those who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom must never be forgotten. That is what Memorial Day, Monday May 26, is all about.
Enjoy the day. Haul out the grill and cold drinks. Invite friends and neighbors over to take part in the fun. Just be sure to set aside a portion of the day to remember and honor those who sacrificed their all to make this day, and every day of freedom, possible for the rest of us.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address is frankg@mcga.net.

Column
By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
May 21, 2003

Guest Column
An important ‘milestone’
I passed another milestone a few weeks ago, one that comes yearly for me now.
No, I’m not talking about a birthday, although that certainly comes faster and faster every year, it seems.
Besides a birthday, my years are now marked by something else that for me, and many others, may be one important key to keeping those birthdays coming.
I’m talking about a colonoscopy, a screening tool used to check for colon cancer.
Most of the time the word “colonoscopy” brings a grimace to anyone who knows, or thinks they know, what it means.
I’m here to tell you that it’s not so bad. And compared to being diagnosed with colon cancer, it’s nothing at all.
I have Crohn’s Disease, or in my particular case Crohn’s Colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation and other widespread symptoms in the digestive tract. Because of this, and because I had a brother who died from advanced colon cancer at age 47, I undergo a colonoscopy every year to check for any signs of significant changes in my colon (large bowel).
Most people don’t go through the procedure that often. In fact those without a family history of colon cancer or bowel disease usually are tested for the first time in their 40’s or around 50 and then every three to five years thereafter, depending on the results of their first test and their risk factors.
But it’s amazing to me to hear how many people avoid this simple test like the plague - refusing to even entertain the notion of getting it done. True, it’s not as simple as going in for blood work or an x-ray, and it does require some time and some discomfort - but most worthwhile things do.
And the test is certainly worthwhile. Colon cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in the United States today, yet this type of cancer is one of the most curable, if caught in time.
A colon tumor, which often begins as a polyp (a small, finger-like projection in the bowel wall) can take years to develop and grow. By the time the tumor is of significant enough size to cause pain or other symptoms, it has often spread to other organs, such as the liver.
So was the case with my brother. By the time he could no longer ignore the pain and discomfort, it was far too late to save his life.
And while surgery and other treatments gave him a few months, they were months filled with pain and the ravaging effects of the disease.
If you have a bowel disease or related problem, or have a family history of colon cancer, no matter what your age, don’t wait - talk with your doctor about when you need to have your first colonoscopy.
I’m 44 and I’ve probably had “more than a dozen” although I’m not sure how many by this time. The procedure itself takes only 15 minutes or so and is done under “twilight sleep” so you’re comfortable throughout.
The only discomfort is the prep, done one day before. It consists of a liquid diet and drinking a solution to “cleanse” the bowel. Many doctors have you drink a gallon of a solution called Colyte. The doctor I use now requires drinking only four ounces of a solution called Phospho Soda that produces the same effect.
But whatever prep your doctor uses, it’s just one day and it may save your life.
And besides afterwards, you can treat yourself to your favorite meal and then my favorite part -go home and take a nice long nap. I’ve begun to almost think of it as a one day “mini-vacation.” After all, I can’t drive, I can’t make legal decisions and I can’t cook (or otherwise play with fire) so I just sleep the afternoon away and let someone else worry about all that.
Think of it that way, or think of it whatever way it takes to get it done, for yourself, and for those you love.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison County Journal.

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