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How did we find my colon cancer? By donating blood.

Blood donation bag attached to a heart. Drawing.

People have asked how I found out I had colon cancer. As I noted in my first post my warning signs were pretty minor. The only symptom I had was getting light-headed when standing. This isn’t too out of the ordinary and, even though it seemed to be happening more often, I just thought it was a perk of getting older.

It wasn’t until I went to donate blood and got denied that we started to realize something might be up. Before giving blood, the Red Cross tests your hemoglobin levels to see if you are ok to give blood. 13.0g/dL is the low end of what they’ll allow in men, and I was at 8.8. The Red Cross worker then asked me about my diet, and I was eating all the right iron rich foods, which made having such low numbers a bit odd. Either way, I was not able to give blood that day, and they suggested I go in and talk to my doctor.  

My doctor ran a bunch of blood tests and talked to me about my diet. They decided to first put me on iron pills every other day. After a few weeks, I went back in and my hemoglobin numbers were at 9.4. Something wasn’t right, as either my body wasn’t absorbing iron or I was bleeding internally somewhere. They then scheduled an endoscopy and colonoscopy to see if they could find anything wrong; which they did. I had a tumor on my colon. 

If my wife hadn’t seen that they were doing a blood drive in town and suggested I go, we’d still be ignorant to the cancer. My doctor said that without any real symptoms, like blood in my stool, it could have easily been 2-3 more years before we’d find it; and that’s only if I were to go in. Males my age don’t go to the doctor often enough which is why I’m sharing my story. I encourage everyone to not only donate blood but also go see your doctor even when things seem fine. 

I had no history of colon cancer, no red flags, nothing that stood out. It was the random act of donating blood that tipped us off and helped us discover the cancer. 

1 Response

  1. That’s amazing Thomas, thank you so much for sharing this. It has definitely made me more interested in doing the annual blood tests that I sometimes wimp out on.

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