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Survivor Story: Joan Kunicki

Editor’s Update: We were saddened to learn of Joan’s passing in 2013. We wish for peace for her family and friends.

Joan Kunicki & her family Washington Township, New Jersey

Joan Kunicki & her family Washington Township, New Jersey

My name is Joan Kunicki. I live in Washington Township, New Jersey. I am 35 years old. I’m married and have two children. Alyana 7, and Alex, 4.

I was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer when I was 33. I still have a very hard time admitting to that fact. I have pretty much tried to block the “bad memories” out of my mind, but when I went on this web site and saw how many more Forget Me Not Stories there were than Stories of Hope, I felt compelled to share my story.

A few months before March of 2007, I started noticing some changes in my bowels. I was going more frequently, looser. Then I started noticing mucous. And what finally brought me to the doctor was a little bit of blood. Right away because of my age, the doctor said I feel confident it’s colitis and even prescribed me medicine. Thank God he was a thorough doctor and sent me to a gastro specialist. Even she thought because of my age, it was colitis and prescribed even more medicine. She wanted to follow up with a colonoscopy just to be sure.

On March 19, 2007, I went to a local hospital to have the colonoscopy. I wasn’t worried at all, thought it was colitis. When I woke up from the procedure — I’ll never forget the look on the doctor’s face — she said I’m 99 percent sure it’s colon cancer.

Within a few days, I went to the University of Penn and had a colon resection. The pathology report showed it was pretty far along. It had invaded the wall and all that medical jargon. Several of my lymph nodes came back positive and the CAT scan also showed several, small nodules on my lungs. I definitely was not prepared for all of that news.

I then started with my oncologist who started me right away on aggressive chemo for six months. It wasn’t fun, but I tolerated it. The nodules on my lungs went away. I have been getting a CAT scan every three months and so far, they have all been clean!! My follow-up colonscopy last year was good. I go on March 10th for this years check.

I could never have done it without all of the help and support of my family and friends, especially, my husband, my mother and my two adorable kids. I will never give up because I want to be a part of their lives for a very long time.

Take it from a young, perfectly healthy, has it all – great husband, great kids, great family, great friends – Never take your life for granted because in a moment’s time it could all change. And if you have the terrible misfortune of having to go through something like this, keep positive and stay strong. You will get through it. I am a perfect example of that!!

Join the discussion 17 Comments

  • Jill C Clay says:

    thank you, I needed to hear this today. I was diagnosed with Stage IV on Oct. 9, 2013. I ran 3 miles 10 days before diagnosis. I am 46, married, have 4 children, active, eat healthy. My only symptoms were nausea, fatigue, belching.. and towards diagnosis high fevers and terrible night sweats. It is in my liver, both sections, and I have my last treatment next week, then CT on the 22nd. It has shrunk more than a 1/3 and my tumor markers went from 68.6 to 9.6 from Oct. 30 to Jan 9. I cannot get it out of my head and feel consumed by it lately, not saying that it hasn’t done this several times over the last 6 months, but with the end of this treatment and a CT coming I am afraid. Thank you for your post and for listening.

  • Kathleen R says:

    Your story sounds like mine…no one would say that it was cancer until they had my biposy results after my resection. I am halfway through chemo now and should be done in June…god-willing! Best of luck tomorrow with your follow up!

  • Jessica M says:

    Joan thanks so much for sharing, being honest and giving people like me courage, I’m going for a colonoscopy soon and we are close in age. God bless you x

  • Denetria H says:

    Thanks for sharing. Your story sounds similar to what I am going through now. I am 33 years old. I am scheduled for resection on 5/16. Colonoscopy on 5/5 showed mass in my right colon and the biopsy confirmed it was cancer. The CT Scan showed possible lymph nodes.

  • Bianca says:

    Hi I’m Bianca, i am 24 years old and recently gave birth to a precious baby boy. It all began last year I started to feel sick to my stomach… Just “off”. My stomach cramps & pains landed me in the ER. At that time I was vomiting and could not stop and even had an “accident” which was a little embarrassing. They told me I needed to see a GI specialist and sent me on my way. The first one told me it’s my IBS and to eat yogurt… She didn’t bother doing a single test. Here I am today, symptoms much worse and continuing… Finally have a decent doctor who has me scheduled for the end of December for both endoscopy and colonoscopy. The medicines he has me on isn’t doing anything for me. My major symptoms are abdominal cramps & pains, nausea (with or without eating), no appetite (I’m lucky if I eat once a day) and blood. The freaky thing is, I can relate to most of these stories I’m reading! Its almost as if I’m reading about myself. At this point, I just want an answer as to why I’m so sick being this young. Thank you for sharing your story, regardless of my outcome in December.

    • Erin Peterson says:

      Best of luck to you Bianca, I’m glad you have finally found a doctor who will get you the tests you need and give you an answer to your questions.

  • Jenine Kinsella says:

    Thank you for your story. I was wondering if we could be in touch. I am 38, and I live in Ramsey. I was just diagnosed this past January with Stage IV colon cancer with metz to my lungs and liver, and it is also in my lymph-nodes. Im scared and would love to chat.

    • Mae Jessica Macbeth says:

      How are you doing? We just learned my father has a cancerous polyp and tumor close to the rectum. We are so lost. I am afraid for my dad

      • Sarah DeBord says:

        Hi Mae. If you are looking for support with you dad, we recommend It is a patient-led group full of so many who have walked this road before. You will find answers, guidance, and the support to help your family navigate what’s ahead. -Sarah DeBord

    • Lyndsey says:

      I know it’s been awhile but I hope that you are okay. Just wanted to let you know Joan passed away =/

  • Kelly Atkison says:

    Bless all who are going through this terrible ordeal.Im 39 years old and I myself have been experiencing symptoms identical to most stories I’ve read. I’m going in for a colonoscopy on Dec 11th. I’ve had severe diarrhea/mucous stools for 3 months or more. I’m so nauseous most of the time that i feel on the verge of vomiting. I’m extremely tired and weak as well. I’ve been diagnosed with NAFLD (non alcoholic fatty liver disease and IBS. At first i thought it could be acid reflux or ibs but even after making changes to my diet i still feel the same, like utter crap. It doesn’t matter what I eat or drink and i always feel full so I’m barely eating whereas I used to eat too much. I’m scared but eager to figure out what this is. Did any of you have severe bloating, belching, and severe nausea if pressure was applied to your left side?
    Maybe there’s a different explanation? My CT scan mentioned having fluid level in my sigmoid colon as well as postoperative changes are present in the midline of my abdominal wall. Liver has enlarged from 23 cm to 25.5 cm in length. Severe fatty infiltration of the liver is present. Does anyone know what all this means? Any websites that speak laments terms would be greatly appreciated and welcomed. I just want to educate myself in case there is a cancer diagnosis. Thank you all so much for sharing your stories and I wish you the best on this journey.

    • C Kitch says:

      Hi there,
      I just read your post, I know it’s been several months…. I hope all is ok with you.
      I’m on here reading posts due to having a couple of symptoms.
      Again, I just wanted to reach out to you. Hoping everything has went well for you.

    • Donna Sheaf says:

      Hi I read your story how did you make out with colonoscopy

  • Donna Sheaf says:

    Hi I read your story how did you make out with colonoscopy

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