Editor’s Update: Nov. 23, 2015
We were saddened to learn of Leigh’s passing on November 20, 2015. We wish peace to her family and friends.
Richmond, VAI am married to a wonderful and supportive husband and I have four wonderful and beautiful daughters. I am a lawyer by trade and work for a large health system.
On April 1, 2011 I was diagnosed with colon cancer; there was no “April Fools” at the end of the consult. By April 5, 2011 the disease was staged and it was Stage III; there was cancer in at least one lymph node.
I thought I had a hemorrhoid, nope it was a tumor. I had a constant pain on my lower left side, extreme fatigue and substantial weight loss.
On April 8, 2011 I had my Power Port implanted into my chest. At the same time, my wonderful colorectal surgeon asked to remove a mole from forehead because it “annoyed” him. A few days later I was told I had melanoma in addition to the colon cancer. In an ironic turn of events, in some ways colon cancer may have saved my life.
Sadly, I did not know my full family history of the disease until I was diagnosed: both of my grandfathers had successfully battled the disease, I knew one had it but not both.
I always try to find a half full glass of water in any situation. I rationalized my cancer was a cautionary tale for my four daughters and anyone else who would pay attention to my medical journey. My family and friends rallied around me. I never thought for a minute this disease was going to defeat me and that was the attitude everyone adopted.
I completed radiation/chemo, surgery and more chemo and after 11 months of treatment I am working full time, getting back to my hobbies, taking my dog on long walks and simply enjoying life. I had a CT scan this past March that came back clean, my blood markers have come back and my recent colonoscopy revealed a healthy colon. So I am walking in a 5K year this year to simply make a statement of “Take that stupid cancer”!
I have gone back to my prior diet, however, most junk food is gone. I can no longer eat nuts, popcorn, raw celery because of the surgery. However, those are small things to be exchanged for being cancer free.
Through everything, I witnessed mostly generous acts of kindness from all of my caregivers (except one) along with family and friends. I experienced very callous behavior towards me because I was diagnosed with cancer and because of legal reasons I cannot go into detail.
My words of wisdom would be to reach out to others because most everyone will be kind and will want to help. Talk to folks who have walked a mile in your shoes, it is great to see the other side of a long dark and unknown tunnel. There are many groups of folks who want to help cancer patients and take advantage of that generosity.