At age 37, I was diagnosed with stage IIB colon cancer.
I had been experiencing abdominal pain for a couple of months, which got progressively worse. My physician was unsure of what was causing my symptoms and I was treated for gastric discomfort. One afternoon, the pain became unbearable and I made my way to the immediate care clinic. A CT scan was ordered and two masses were found.
I was promptly scheduled for a colonoscopy which confirmed that I had colon cancer in my ascending and descending colon. I had no family history of the disease. I was tested for a genetic disorder called “Lynch Syndrome.” The test was negative and within two weeks of the diagnosis I underwent a subtotal colectomy.
My entire life had changed! I was a single mother of two boys, a daughter, sister, friend, and registered nurse, for over ten years. Now I am a cancer patient. My four day hospital stay turned into three long weeks. I had every complication imaginable, including uncontrolled nausea, vomiting, a bowel ileus, anaphylactic shock, pneumonia, seizures, and dehydration. My laparoscopic surgery was just days from becoming an exploratory abdominal procedure to locate the root of my setback. However, prayer and a nasogastric tube were the solutions and I was soon sent home.
I was released from the hospital just days before my oldest son’s Beautilion ceremony. I was there with him on stage, in front of hundreds of attendees as a proud parent, despite how I felt physically. I spent six long months in chemotherapy, which had to be regulated often due to my sensitivity to the aggressive treatment. My youngest son would often stay with me as I received treatment. He always sat in the recliner with me. My 16 year-old son would drive me to my chemo appointments, faithfully. I had over ten medical appointments monthly, which were extremely draining.
Despite my illness I was able to attend my oldest son’s high school graduation and 18th birthday celebration. My coworkers were awesome, and raised over $700.00 for me. Despite receiving such a devastating diagnosis, only five months after starting a new job, I remained employed for five years (even though I called in 70 times in one year, who gets away with that???) While I was off work I studied and passed my nursing board certification for rehabilitation nursing and completed the requirements for a Master’s degree in Nursing Management.
As I embark on the five year mark of cancer remission, I am reflecting on how blessed I am to have such a great team of physicians, friends, loved ones, coworkers, and my dog Potter! I have returned to full-time employment and I’ve chosen a rewarding career in hospice nursing. Everyday I look into the eyes of others who have been diagnosed with cancer and other terminal illnesses. I’m able to relate to their struggles and fears.
I’m a proud supporter of Get Your Rear in Gear, as a volunteer in Wichita, Kansas. This year I will run/walk with my own team. Today, I am 43 years-old and I celebrate life and health for all colon cancer survivors!!!Return To Faces Of Blue Learn More About Colon Cancer Get Your Rear In Gear- Wichita, KS