Monday 14 May 2012


I'm going to take a quick detour from my usual stories to post something that I hope will make you smile as much as it did for me.  I don't come across stories like this very often, so when I do, I feel the need to share.

Oh, stop gagging you big baby.  Just read.

I was consulted on an elderly gentleman in his 80's about 2 months ago due to anemia and rectal bleeding.  In a man of this age, this is considered to be colon cancer until proven otherwise.  A gastroenterologist performed a colonoscopy and found a mass in his colon, and biopsies confirmed colon cancer a few days later.

Mr. X (not his real name) took the news very well.  He and his wife, who passed away a few years ago, were Holocaust survivors, and he dealt with the bad news just like he dealt with everything else - with an amazing sense of humour.  I've never heard so many cancer jokes in my life - I never knew so many cancer jokes even existed!

I removed about half of his colon laparoscopically (with a few very tiny incisions), and he recovered very well, going home about five days after surgery.  I saw him in my office about two weeks later, and everything was going very well, though he had elected not to undertake chemotherapy.  He still cracked jokes at every possible opportunity.

Hold your horses, the heartwarming part of the story is coming now - I just got an email from his daughter that the local municipality will be naming a school after his late wife after an exhaustive search for a new name.

There isn't very much out there, besides my wife and children, that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  This did.


  1. These are the stories that make being in the medical profession worth it. Thank you for sharing. :)

  2. After having what I thought was a 'tough day', this post has put it all into perspective and made me realise, I don't have it that bad. If people who have had it tough for a lot of their lives and can still live happily, then I can too:) Thanks.

  3. Here's a happy story on a closely related topic.

    At the age or about 60 my mother was diagnosed with similar symptoms. Bowel cancer was diagnosed and she went under the knife to have a chunk of bowel removed (not that happy so far).

    She was given a choice - it has spread to the liver and she could have the chemo (5FU in this case) or elect to just take as many good days as she could. She took the treatment. And it hurt. She was really unwell for 6 months and looked much older than she does now, 16 years on. Yes, that's right: 16 years later, at nearly 77, she plays volleyball twice a week. She still has a liver scan annually and the scars are still visible in the scan but they don't change from one year to the next.

    For a few in a thousand, and for reasons that I don't think are known, some bowel cancers get completely wiped out by the chemo - metastases and all. She was the one in a thousand.

    She was damned lucky, but modern medicine amazes me sometimes.

  4. AWWWW! /don't cry, don't cry, don't cry.

    lol at "not his real name"

  5. This was an amazing story, thank you so much for sharing.

    On another note, I have never heard a cancer joke before. Would you mind sharing some? :D

  6. Did you add "not his real name" because of "HIPPA"?

    1. No, I put that there to protect his privacy.

  7. At last, a doc that *appreciates* the patient cracking jokes! I find this to be rather few and far between. I mean, I'm here, I'm at the high end of the pain scale, but if I can muster the gumption to say something funny can you please have the grace to at least smile slightly? You'd be surprised at how many doctors are humorless automatons. Rather depressing, really...


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