On October 7, 2008 I was diagnosed with Stage III rectal cancer. I remember having trouble with my bowel movements for a couple of weeks and thinking that something was not normal, I decided to go see my family physician. The nurse told me that I was too young for any serious problems and that I was just constipated but the doctor reviewed my family history, which starts with my dad’s benign tumor in his colon about ten years ago. And his sister, who passed away from colon cancer, which was caught very late and had already spread to her liver. My dad was in his early fifties when he had surgery, and my aunt was in her late forties when she passed. This little bit of history encouraged my doc tor to set up an appointment with a gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy. A malignant tumor was discovered along with one abnormal lymph node, giving me the Stage III status. From here on was a whirlwind of events which included a mediport, chemotherapy for seven days a week to go along with radiation for five days a week from October to December. On January 20, 2009 I had a successful lower rectal recession to remove the cancer along with 21 lymph nodes, which thankfully tested negative for cancer. After surgery I began my six month post-surgery chemotherapy regimen. Finally in September 2009, I was given the No Evidence of Disease status. Since then I have been told cancer has returned twice but each time biopsies have proven no cancer.
Cancer has seriously changed my life. Scar tissue where I was reattached has given me many problems which include fecal incontinence and some pain. The chemotherapy has dealt me neuropathy in my hands and feet, which on certain days can be good or bad. Mentally I am aware of a possible recurrence which always lurks in the back of my mind but life keeps on going and I stay positive. But my life has also changed for the better. I now run three miles every other day and have competed in many 5k races including three Get Your Rear in Gear events and have completed two half marathons. I am a slow runner and am the butt of many jokes but I am proud I am able to complete these runs, since I have never ever been a dedicated runner until now. I am trying to be a positive influence for other people suffering from colorectal cancer. I want my running to give other people hope. Along with my running I was chosen to represent the month of March in the 2012 Colon Club’s Colondar which is a huge honor for me. I just hope people read my story and feel the positivity that has kept me going these past three years and will keep me going in the future.
My family has been the biggest coping mechanism in dealing with this. They never let me get down, they listened to me when I had complaints and helped me as best they could. I could never have gotten through this without my wife and kids. I am blessed to have them in my corner.
The phrase Get Your Rear In Gear not only represents raising awareness for the fight against colorectal cancer and honoring our loved ones affected by cancer. It represents a movement for everyone to become active, not by running but by participating in anything that is considered healthy. Don’t wait until something forces you to start living healthy.