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