Hal Fishman, the distinguished KTLA news anchor, a dignified and restrained throwback to an earlier era of television news, died Tuesday, of complications from colon cancer, at age 75. His cancer had been diagnosed only one week before his death, following a collapse at his home. Mr. Fishman had worked right up to that time; one might almost say he died with his boots on, and no doubt that is how he would have chosen to leave his beloved profession. The Los Angeles Times report of his death is found here. Our condolences go out to his family, friends and loved ones.
Today I took the one step that all of us post-50 boomers need to take, the one preventive action that most assures early detection of colon cancer. I had a colonoscopy. It was my second; my first was at age 50. I am now 55. This second procedure revealed one small benign polyp, which was removed. Because the colonoscopy discovered a polyp, my doctor will likely recommend another colonscopy in 5 years.
My procedure had been scheduled over a month ago, and had nothing to do with Mr. Fishman's illness. Nonetheless, when I heard the news of Mr. Fishman's diagnosis a week ago, and how advanced the cancer was when discovered, having already spread to the liver and other vital organs, I wondered why Mr. Fishman, certainly someone who kept abreast of the news, including in healthcare, would not have undergone a colonoscopy years ago. Members of his profession are no doubt even more aware than the general public of CBS news anchor Katie Couric's campaign to encourage colonoscopies, as the best medical tool for the early detection and treatment of colon cancer, a campaign that Ms. Couric undertook following the death of her husband from the disease. As the illness of a celebrity tends to raise public awareness of a disease, one would hope that more people will discuss with their physicians whether they should have a colonoscopy. One has to believe that Hal Fishman would applaud such a result.
Of course, one who is saved from colon cancer by a colonoscopy today may be fatally hit by a car tomorrow. The length of our lives is solely in God's hands. Nonetheless, as with everything else in life, God expects us to contribute what in Hebrew we call histadlut, a good faith effort and initiative to try to do what is right and best for us; then we trust in Him regarding the ultimate result of our efforts, whether it may seem good or ill in our human eyes. So, fellow baby boomers, speak to your physicians and schedule a colonscopy. It may be a pain in the tuches, but it's good for you.