By Randy Lopez/Stage IV Survivor 13 years
An ice cream cone was my tipping point.
At that time I was living in Florida and concerned with a new job and dealing with a recent relocation from our home in southern California. My wife and our two daughters were at “Twistee Treat” and having a nice weekend day together when I decided to turn a shade of green. At 34, my doctor had explained earlier that I had an internal hemorrhoid and that symptoms would come and go. This was before the “Couric effect” and I wasn’t aware of colon cancer and its symptoms.
The following day I began my formal introduction into a whirlwind of doctor visits, scans, colonoscopies, surgery and chemo to combat what was determined to be Stage 3 Colon Cancer. My wife, Beatrice and my daughters, Caitlin and Natalie became my team along with my incredible in-laws and parents. Less than a year after finishing chemo, a metastasize was found in my liver and I began another battle with my Stage 4 status: liver resection and another bout of chemo.
In the 13+ years since diagnosis, I’ve learned so much about how to deal with cancer physically and emotionally. My wife and I changed my diet, I’ve tried to laugh more, and everyone who knows me or meets me gets a few stories of my “cancer story”. I’ve been fortunate to be able to tell my story at various conferences, events, and was even featured in CNN’s “Surviving Cancer with Dr. Gupta and Lance Armstrong” a few years ago. As a member of the Colon Cancer Alliance, I acted as spokesperson with Olympic gold medalist Dara Torres. And as a personal high point in my life, I had the opportunity to meet Mel Brooks and thank him for being part of my healing process by giving me laughs when I was listening to his “2000 year-old Man” recordings during chemo.
In the years since being first diagnosed, my wife and I have seen the medical community begin to understand the treatment of the whole person including diet, attitude, and including traditional and non-traditional means of treatment. I continue sourcing new treatments and leaders in the cancer battle to pass on information to others and to keep an eye out in case it comes back again.
Personally, I speak to cancer patients all the time but my major focus is speaking to those that should be screened for cancer due to a family history or have symptoms. These are the people that Get Your Rear in Gear supports. And my personal mission is the same – To ensure that all citizens have adequate information and access to screening for colon cancer.
Please join me in supporting the Colon Cancer Coalition and Get Your Rear in Gear and I look forward to telling more of my story in the future. Feel free to contact me on Twitter @randylopez and @stage4survivor.
Let’s get the word out about screening and education.
Don’t wait for an ice cream cone to change your life.