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Survivor Story: Michele Longabaugh

Michele Longabaugh Wichita, KS

Michele Longabaugh
Wichita, KS

My name is Michele I am a wife and mother of three grown children. I am a registered nurse and small business owner in the midwest. I sell pacemakers and defibrillators for Biotronik Inc.

I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Anal Cancer in February 2010. I asked my OB-Gyn doctor to check what I thought was a hemorrhoid flare up at my routine pap smear visit, and discovered it was actually two tumors. My constant sciatica was found to be caused by a golf ball sized tumor growing out of my sacral bone. Not only was I diagnosed with a rare form of cancer; I had a rare form of metastasis located in my bone. After surgery to remove the sacral tumor I received simultaneous chemotherapy and radiation; two rounds of chemo lasting 96 hours each and seven weeks of radiation that resulted in my hospitalization for the last two weeks of treatment for pain control.

I baffled them all when I went into remission last year; I have just passed my one-year anniversary. The thing about anal cancer is that it is a cancer “below the belt”. Not only is it rare, there is definitely an unwarranted shame attached to it. I overcame the shame and humiliation and decided to fight the stigma. I did not have one risk factor when I was diagnosed. I thought I had a hemorrhoid and sciatic pain. I was wrong. My “well woman” doctor appointment saved my life!

These days, I try not to take any medications unless absolutely necessary. I eat to try to keep weight on and am limited by the damage radiation has inflicted on my digestive system. I exercise and try to increase my strength.

My current goal is to raise awareness for not only anal cancer but all cancers that exist “below the belt”. People need to be educated. Doctors need to be screening patients. I am talking and I can’t shut up…I won’t shut up! My hope is that no one ever suffers from anal cancer and if they do they get early diagnosis and treatment.

I would have liked to have a support group…a real one for folks like me. If I had been diagnosed with breast cancer resources would have been crawling out of the woodwork for me. There seems to be a stigma associated with these “below the belt” cancers and resources for emotional support are scarce.

I started a blog that logs my entire story from diagnosis to today. My hope is to shatter the stigma and fight the loneliness that accompanies this devastating type of cancer. You can visit my blog titled I have Butt What.  My story was recently published into a book, proceeds from each book will go to cancer research ($1/book). Check it out!

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Ginger Whitt says:

    Am so very sorry to read of your condition and horrible lack of emotional support. I intend to purchase your book. Much of my family have passed from colon cancer. My risk is high. I get regular colonoscopies. Question, will a colonoscopy detect colorectal carcinoma? Thank you in advance for your reply. My prayers are with you for permanent remission and healing.

  • Carrie says:

    Never give up hope. God bless you. Colon cancer is one of the dangerous disease ! Don’t wait until you suspect something is wrong. ! Visit http://colorectal-surgeon.com.au/

  • Loretta Youngberg says:

    I too battled sage 1 anal cancer and feel I need to educate everyone I know about this cancer. As like you I won’t shut up because it’s rare and when you are going through treatment and surviving this embarrassing cancer. there’s absolutely no support to be found for this. I’ve even educated doctors about some of the issues I’m experiencing. I’m just 7 months out of treatment, my pet scan shows no signs of cancer. But still I’m left with several side effects. it took my own research to fine a physical therapist that deals with the issues radiation left me with. Glad to find your page it’s good to read about others that experience the same cancer and to know your not alone. Thanks for sharing, Loretta

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