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Survivor Story: Peggy Manbeck

Peggy Manbeck Robesonia, PA

Peggy Manbeck
Robesonia, PA

I am a soon to be retired high school Biology Teacher. I have taught for 32 years. I have three married children, three grandchildren and one amazing husband.

I am a colon cancer survivor. I had lynch syndrome, a genetically related colon cancer. Lucky for me I did. It is one of the easiest to treat. It is always on the right side so surgery is a good treatment. My tumor had not broken through the colon wall so I just need chemotherapy as a prevention tool. I was diagnosed the day before my 54 birthday. I am a five year survivor. There is cancer in my family, my brother had colon cancer at age 33, my mother died of ovarian cancer at age 33 and my father had prostate cancer at 80.

My surgeon was wonderful, very patient and caring, however I developed infections and a surgical hernia which required me to be in the hospital on my back for 14 days. During that time my children tell me that I thought and voiced I was going to die. I was sent home and could not walk the length of my house without holding on to something. I was not eating well, lost the taste for food. Den my husband would have me sit in the recliner and feed me light food every hour. He would make me get up and walk during every commercial break. When I was stronger, he would walk me around the house and outside on a local church parking lot.

I got stronger with the help of my family and another cancer survivor, my best friend Joan. I was told that I could take Chemotherapy as a preventive, it would possibly reduce my rate of returning cancers by 20%. I took it. Chemo was a challenge of miscommunications. Like the day the billing person came to me when I was in the chemo chair and told me I owed them money now or the iv would be pulled out. Talk about a mixup, they had the wrong patient, even so that should never happen. I was lucky my surgeon, who I trust, says I am cured. I eventually asked for another oncologist after chemo because the prior one just talked to my husband. The new doctor left the practice, I was told I could schedule any other doctor in the practice. No such luck. I now have no oncologist and just using my surgeon.

A challenge for me was that no one really noticed how afraid I was. I went to Chemotherapy by myself because my doctor only talked to my husband, I seemed alone. I tried to control what I could. I wore the same outfit to every chemo, than I burned it after the last one I took. I felt like a failure because I only completed 11 of 12 chemotherapy treatments because I was back at work and so tired. My cancer doctor said he was surprised I lasted so long. Nice guy right!

I feel strong and healthy. I am retiring and hope to do some volunteer work with other cancer patients. I am lucky. I am probably healthier now than five years ago when I was diagnosed. I exercise more, go to yoga, and eat a low sodium high fiber diet.

I still have neurapthia in my feet. They are numb and so I have to balance myself when I get up. I have a mess in my abdomen because of the complications from surgery I had. So I have to constantly work on balance and core strength. These are all mild challenges compared to most. My biggest challenge is to have others and maybe even myself acknowledge what I went through was terrible.

To those going through what I did I would say learn to ask for help. Learn to know your body. Learn to be patient with yourself and others. Find a friend to help you other than your spouse and know that you can do it!!

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