About this time one year ago I revealed in this column that I had just had major surgery to remove a cancer from my colon. I wrote that my doctors said my chances of full recovery were good because the cancer had been detected before it started to spread to other parts of my body. I praised my doctors, especially Dr. Hart who had insisted that I have the test that discovered the cancer. I made my cancer public for the same reason that many other victims of this disease have done so. My chance of survival was greatly improved by early testing, and I urged anyone who was at risk for cancer to get tested regularly.

Now, a year later, many of you have asked me about my health. I am humbled by your concern for me and I appreciate your concern and support. I can report to you that the most recent tests have all come back negative. There is no trace of the disease currently in my body.

That does not mean that it cannot come back. The doctors say that there is a five-year window for the disease to reoccur. Therefore I will be tested frequently for the disease for the next several years so that if it returns, or if a new cancer develops, I will have a head start in battling it.

I can also report to you that because of my experience, the story of my disease and personal urging, a number of my friends have undergone testing for cancer. In most cases, their test found no cancer. They tell me that just knowing that they are free of the disease is a very satisfying outcome. None of them regret the discomfort, and in some cases, the embarrassment of the test. They are all glad they did it.

The several of my friends and readers who found early cancer are even more happy about their decision. It gave them the same opportunity to rid themselves of the disease that was granted to me.

Now as for the rest of you, the ones who still haven’t been tested for cancer; I urge you to go to your doctor and schedule a thorough physical exam to determine if you are at risk for cancer. If the doctor suggest that testing is appropriate, do not put it off. The earlier cancer is detected, the greater chance you have to defeat it.

Today, following major surgery and six months of chemotherapy, I am strong, healthy and cancer free. Had I waited another year to have the test done, I might not be able to say that. My cancer was found early, and that saved my life.

Check with your doctor and follow his or her advice. That often repeated mantra, early detection saves lives, is for real. It saved mine.

Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is frankgillispie671@msn.com. His website can be accessed at http://frankgillispie.tripod.com/

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