In late September of 2013 I started noticing trace amounts of blood in my stool. I went to see my primary care physician and he examined me. He said it was likely just hemorrhoids.
Two months later I was traveling on business in Las Vegas. I went to the bathroom and noticed a lot of blood in my stool and it didn’t look normal. I ended up going to the ER in Las Vegas. The doctor said it was probably hemorrhoids, but that I should see a doctor when I got back to Boston and get a colonoscopy.
In early January of 2014 I had my colonoscopy. I was told upon waking that my upper endoscopy looked great but that there was a small tumor in my lower colon that was likely cancer. The GI doctor that delivered this message did not have a great bedside manner and said to me, “it’s not big and can probably just be removed surgically and you’ll be fine.”
When the pathology results came back, confirming it was cancer, I reached out to the best GI doctor I could find, Dr. Peter Marcello at Lahey Clinic in Burlington, MA. He returned my call on a weeknight at 9 p.m. and said to come in the next day. I ended up having laparoscopic surgery to remove one third of my colon and all of the attached lymph nodes to that area. I was devastated to get the call that 20 out of 30 lymph nodes had cancer in them, putting me at Stage III. I would need a month to heal from surgery and would need to start chemotherapy immediately after that.
I spent the next six months, after healing, receiving treatment at Dana Farber Cancer Center in Weymouth, Massachusetts. I would go in on a Monday morning and start getting treatment as an inpatient in my port. I would then leave with the infusion pump to continue two days of treatment at home, three days in total. I would deactivate and de-access my port at home when it was done.
After my first treatment I suffered from horrible chest pains, which put me in the ER for the “100 mile heart workup.” It was determined I was going to be part of the small percentage of people who have side effects to their heart. I would need to see a cardiologist who specializes in Oncology.
He prescribed me a nitrate, Imdur, to soften the heart muscles. It was not exactly a comforting thing. I had the same reaction every time, in addition to getting hives in rounds seven through twelve. Chemotherapy is awful and I don’t wish the treatment, or cancer for that matter, on anyone. I have two young boys who were both under the age of five when I was in treatment. There was a lot burden on my wonderful husband, as I very sick from the side effects.
As of right now I just had a CT scan. Three years after treatment began and I show no sign of disease. I am so grateful for my survival and hope that others will speak up if they experience any symptoms. It truly is a matter of life or death.Return To Faces of Blue Learn More About Colon Cancer