I was 33 when I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.
It took approximately six months of doctor visits before I was diagnosed. I presented with severe abdominal pain, which was initially diagnosed as colitis. Even after being sent to a GI specialist, who reviewed my first CT scan, I was told, “we could do a colonoscopy if you want, but you’re too young for cancer, so I’m sure things will clear up.” My pain only got worse until I could no longer deal with it. Through my persistence for answers, and a few choice words, the ER doctor ordered a second CT scan.
I can remember very little about the day I received my diagnosis because I kept thinking “I don’t want to die.” I, like everyone else with a family, want to see my children grow, graduate school, fall in love, and start families of their own. All I could do that day is remember each milestone I had seen my children accomplish and wonder how many I would miss. I remember staring at my husband trying to memorize the handsome features of his face. I wondered who would take care of my family once i was gone. It didn’t seem real.
This had to be a bad dream. At any moment I would wake up. I didn’t cry very much. I felt numb. Somehow, I thought, if I didn’t acknowledge this being true, than it would all go away. Even as the surgeon was explaining everything, and I asked all the usual questions, I was thinking “this is no big deal, I’m a nurse, I can handle this.”
I can say now the surgery was a very big deal. My recovery was hard. I was very weak and lost a lot of weight. It was very obvious that I was sick. Losing my hair was depressing. Originally, I didn’t think it would matter. I had worked with cancer patients. When you’re fighting for your life who cares about hair?! But as a woman, it mattered. Having a huge scar down my entire torso and a port scar on my chest mattered.
I was no longer a nurse, a mother, a wife – now I was only a patient, a walking cancer. I struggled for a longtime with this new body and my new identity. I went through a brief time when all I could think about was cancer and death; being afraid that each CT scan was going to give me an expiration date.
Then my body slowly got stronger and my hair started to grow back. My scans stayed stable and even showed improvement. I began to feel like myself again, and somehow felt better, improved. I have recovered from two surgeries and over 30 rounds of chemo.
I continue to fight everyday. And while I know my fight is not over, nor is everyday a win, I have hope and faith. I believe that this new chapter in my life is meant to show me great things. Now until my last breath, I will enjoy every single moment of my children. I will cherish each silly argument I have with my husband. And I pray that because of my struggle I have saved my children from having to go through this. If I can bring awareness or save just one person’s life by stressing the importance of early detection and being your own advocate, then I’ve done my job as a nurse.Return To Faces Of Blue Learn More About Colon Cancer Get Your Rear in Gear- Columbus