My name is Shannon Pate. I am married to a great guy for almost 30 years and we have two awesome daughters. I love my family and friends with my whole heart. My interests are helping others and going to the beach!
I was diagnosed in 2005 with Stage XIB colon cancer. My dad was diagnosed with colon cancer at 52. I had been feeling sick for over 6 months, but my doctor said it was all in my head. I finally convinced my doctor to send me for a colonoscopy even though he felt I was too young to have colon cancer. The colonoscopy had shown that I had colon cancer.
We went to two of the best surgeons in town and were told there was no hope. My cancer had spread up near my spleen and they thought I would probably not make it thru the surgery. My cancer was already blocking my colon so they thought I might have 6 months to a year. I was devastated. Raising my daughter was foremost on my mind and so I thought this is not good enough. And my family searched for the best surgeon they could find.
My family found a doctor in Houston who specialized in this kind of surgery. I flew down there and met his protocol and scheduled the surgery in 2 weeks. I felt confident he could do the surgery. However, the day we were flying to Houston for my surgery, my mother- in-law who had stage I breast cancer became suddenly ill and went to the hospital in pain.
My husband went to the hospital to see what was wrong and having no answers, we flew to Houston. When we landed my husband had a message to call his dad. She was cancer free, but the chemo protocol they gave her ruptured her colon. My husband was an only child and his mother was dying. I felt he needed to go home and be with his mom even though he didn’t want to leave me. It was an emotional goodbye.
He got to be with his mom a few hours before she passed away. They made funeral arrangements the next morning, and charted a private jet to bring family to be with me in Houston. Three of my friends flew to Houston also to give their support. I felt my prayers were heard!
I survived the 8 and1/2 hour surgery. They removed 22 lymph nodes, my omentum, and 18 inches of colon. It was a struggle to make it, but I had and how grateful I was to still be alive. I relied on my faith to get me through all the hard times. I was able to see an oncologist at Baylor University who gave me choices for chemo. He gave me the option of a 5, 10, or 15 year plan. Of course I took the 15 year plan!
I could raise our daughter on the 15 year plan! He said you will be in bed for the next year because of the aggressiveness of the chemo. I thought what’s one year when I have the next fourteen. When I got home to Tulsa I went to the Cancer Treatment Center of America to receive my chemo and support. With help from friends who took care of my daughter I made it through 8 months of chemo.
About a year and a half later, I was very sick and they thought my cancer was back. After testing I received news that I was pregnant. I was 44 and was sent to a specialist who told us that I would miscarry. This we kept to ourselves, we didn’t want to traumatize our now 6-year-old or others with more bad news. But four months later I was still pregnant. We went to the specialist who told us that our baby girl looked perfect! We were so excited to share the good news! October 22, 2008 we welcomed Bella Grace! Although she was a early, and healthy, she was also a breath of fresh air for all of us.
Less than a month later, I started having pain. I had 5 hernias from my previous extensive surgery and would need emergency surgery. My friends and family were by my side. Before my surgery the doctor said I couldn’t lift my new baby, which meant I couldn’t walk with her when she was crying, change her or pick her up out of her crib. I was devastated and couldn’t imagine not being able to care for my new baby. Luckily, my friends to came to my rescue.
Before I went into the operating room they had a schedule made out to take care of me and the baby from 8-5 everyday for the next three months. They loved and cared for her as though she was their own. Something like that changes your life and that never would have happened had I not had cancer. Again, I was blessed.
It took me a couple of years to recover from my surgeries and I still have issues from them. I will never be the same as I was before cancer. I have disabilities and pain I will always live with, but the positives outweigh the negatives.
Words could never express how grateful I am to my friends Cathy, Deola, Jackie, Gwen, Jim and many others for being there for us and how thankful I am for my husband, mom and 2 wonderful daughters Sophie and Bella, who are now 13 and 5.
I am about to celebrate my 30th wedding anniversary. So if I can do this anybody can beat cancer. Don’t let colon cancer define you. You are in charge of your own health care. Don’t take no for an answer. Keep a positive attitude, fight and don’t give up! I got my rear in gear and have not looked back.