My colonoscopy experience: A gastroenterologist gets some of his own medicine -- A three part story

Posted by David Farrar MD
March 12, 2013

Dr. Farrar and his father

Part One: A call from my father

I knew something wasn’t quite right listening to the message on our answering machine early last October. It was my dad. "David, give me a call.  I’ve got to talk to you about something." Calling back, somehow I wasn’t that surprised when he told me almost immediately, “I had my colonoscopy last week, and they found an early cancer. So you know what that means.” 

I knew exactly what he meant—I needed a colonoscopy. My dad, also a gastroenterologist, knows the recommendations for colon cancer screenings as well as I do. If a person has a first degree relative (a parent, sibling or child) who had colon cancer, it is recommended for that person to have a colonoscopy either at age 40 or ten years before the age when the first degree relative was diagnosed with cancer, whichever comes first. Guess what? I was 40. Rather than waiting until the magic age of 50, I get to have my colonoscopy ten years earlier than expected.

My dad didn’t seem nervous at all. I think he was more nervous for me. Fortunately, everything went fine for him. The cancer was completely removed by surgery, and because it was a very early cancer, he didn’t need chemotherapy.

I, on the other hand, had some work to do. I scheduled my colonoscopy for 8:45 a.m. on Nov. 6, 2012, which happened to be Election Day. To be honest, I was looking forward to getting it done. After performing colonoscopies on patients for almost ten years, I was somewhat intrigued to experience it from the other side.

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Comments (3)

I was feeling better about my upcoming colonoscopy and prostrate biopsy after reading your article. It was good knowing your dad had a full recovery and your experienced in this stuff.

Burdette Hoeppner - 03/27/2016

What a great article on a sensitive subject, very well done.

Shirley Oja - 01/23/2016

Great - maybe if all gastroenterlogist has to do the procedure, there would be some improvements, such as detailed instructions on what to eat prior, when etc I did have mine at Mayo, but even there there is a lack of detail and there is a lack of individualization for the patient. I think that there ought to be alternatives offered at annual visit, FOB does work, if consistently applied. Look forward to reading the next segments.

Tatjana Grzenia - 03/19/2013

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