My grandfather died of colorectal cancer when my mother was 13 years old, a catastrophic event that tore his family apart.1 When I was a child and even a young adult, his death seemed to me more an abstraction than a tragedy that unfolded slowly, devastating people I love.
Things change. In my 20s, I saw up close what this illness does to its middle-aged victims and their families. In my 30s, I watched my father-in-law suffer in much the same way before saying good-bye to his daughters and grandchildren. And after decades of watching young faces turn slowly into old ones, I started to see, in my mother, a girl who lost the most important man in her life just as she was about to enter high school, a girl who was then uprooted and sent to live 200 miles from home.
Cannon MF. Ascertaining Costs and Benefits of Colonoscopy More Difficult Than the Procedure Itself. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(8):1055-1056. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.3292