Archaeology and Colon Cancer

In my last post, I mentioned my Tennessee archaeologist friend who lost her life to colon cancer at age 45 in 1990.  Her name was Patricia Cridlebaugh, and she was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in anthropology with a concentration in American archaeology at The University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee.  That was back in the days when many people did not get colonoscopies on a regular schedule as they do now. 

People who work in American archaeology, especially in university contexts and CRM, have so little spare time that it is easy to just put off a medical procedure like this.  Others think colon cancer is the disease “the other person gets, but not me.”  But here is the truth.  It can be you, especially if you have a family history of colon cancer or are age 50 and over.  While colon cancer is one of the most deadly forms of cancer, it is also one of the most easily preventable and curable if caught early, or even better, before it can start.  It starts from tiny polyps that form on the interior wall of the colon.  You might think of them as tiny “granny beads” that grow somewhere other than around your neck.   A colonoscopy can detect their presence.  Better yet, while the doctor is examining you, he can either destroy them right there on the spot or ask you to come back if he/she needs a little more time.  When you wake up from some very pleasant medication (relaxation at its best I can assure you), one usually never knows the doctor has been in there, even if he destroyed a bunch of polyps—usually no blood, no pain, no nothing.  At least, that has been my experience.

The only somewhat unpleasant part is prepping for the procedure, which means getting purged the day before.  Any archaeologist worth his or her salt ought to have their cranium examined by Ales Hrdlicka for running away from that.  It is a golden opportunity to sense a whisper of the power behind the “black drink” and all of those purgative salts Native Americans were mining deep in those Kentucky caves.  (Thanks Patty Jo!!!)

If you have a family history of colon cancer or are age 50 and older, quit putting it off and make your appointment today!!!  The life you save may be your own.  You do want to watch your son or daughter graduate from high school or college—maybe get married.  Right?  Please take care of yourself so you can be there.  Call your doctor today.  Right now.  Feature 34 can wait a few minutes.

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