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Survivor Story: Heather Jeffries

jeffriesI am a 55-year old woman married for 33 years and mother of two grown daughters. I was an instructional kindergarten assistant with FCPS for 20 years. I volunteer with Special Olympics and coordinate the Ice Skating Program in the North Virginia Region.

There is no known family history of colon cancer or other cancers. My symptoms were bloating, loss of appetite, weight loss, what women is going to complain about that, and slight pressure in the middle of the stomach . Thought it was my gall bladder. After seeing my doctor, a Hipa and sonogram were ordered, which is what discovered the mass on my liver, then onto Colonoscopy and CAT scan, MRI and PET scan. The gastroenterologist, surgeon and oncologist confirmed my diagnosis. I received immediate treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

I underwent six rounds of chemotherapy, three days every other week for six weeks, then surgery to remove the left lobe of my liver, my appendix, gall bladder, lymph nodes, and a resection of my colon. Another six rounds of chemotherapy followed this.

My friends and family were always supportive and offering to do whatever I needed. My husband was amazing and was with me all the way always.

I have learned to identify and prioritize the truly important things and let go of those things that cause stress and worry. I exercise, which I did throughout my fight, it helped tremendously. I appreciate the small things that bring us pleasure and disregard the nonsense we all bring into our lives.

I was and am very fortunate that I was able, with my family, to afford to take leave from work and had the means to get the best help I could.

To others I would suggest having a positive outlook and remaining as active as possible. Communicate with those treating you. Tell them everything that is going on. I got lots of good advice from the home nurse about muscle cramps from the chemo. Things you eat can make a hue difference in the way you respond to treatment.

To cope, I stay busy with exercise, hobbies, and daily routines. I try to make things as normal as possible and surround myself with positive people. I stay hydrated and I found that drinking Gatorade before chemo helped with muscle cramps. Don’t feel silly about wearing gloves to the grocery store to hold cold items, listen to your body, it will tell you what it needs.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Neeraj says:

    I have been diagnosed 2stage colon cancer. Surgery has been done and they have suggested adjuvant treatment of six month chemo.i am confused about it should I go for the treatment or not.i want to know about the side effects of it.

  • Linda says:

    Not sure if you are following this page anymore but I am wondering what life is like is now for you?
    I had surgery for Stage 3a colon cancer with resection and in my 2nd cycle of Chemo. (only 5 to go) 🙂
    The gloves definately help and I am also wondering what foods did you eat to help with the side effects?

    Thank you and God Bless

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