As a 38 year-old father of two, who has always been in relatively decent health, I was a bit distraught with the constant pain surrounding my abdomen during the summer of 2012. I wasn’t sure if I was overly stressed from work or if perhaps I had developed an ulcer. Among the changes in my bowel habits, the pain in what I thought was my stomach and the random blood in my stool and underwear; I was at a loss. I did know after the third instance of finding blood in my underwear that something was wrong.
After consulting with my general practitioner, he sent me for a colonoscopy. I’d had a colonoscopy earlier in life, so I was not worried about the procedure. I honestly felt certain they would tell me I was overreacting. Wrong. As I woke up from the procedure, I heard my doctor telling someone on the phone my name and I heard him say cancer. While he was not prepared to say with 100% certainty that I had cancer, he had certainly done enough of these procedures and seen enough cases of colon cancer to know it was. After a maddening 48-hour wait over the course of the weekend, cancer was confirmed on Monday morning.
The next few weeks were a whirlwind. We started interviewing doctors the same week I had my diagnosis, we needed a top-notch surgeon to get me in and out. I wanted the cancer out ASAP. Almost ten days after my diagnosis, I went in to have surgery to remove part of my colon, during the surgery, they also removed the lymph nodes surrounding my colon. The cancer was Stage III. While trying to rest in the hospital, I developed a tear in the colon resection and underwent emergency surgery to correct the tear. As a result of the emergency surgery, I had an ostomy. 18 days and 40 pounds later, I was able to go home. Who knew that being on liquids for almost three weeks could cause someone to lose 40 pounds!?!
Recovering at home led to looking forward to six months worth of chemotherapy and trying to figure out how to get back to a normal life, one that required work and getting back in the swing of things. 2013 came and went, I finished chemo, had a surgery to reverse my ostomy and had my first colonoscopy post diagnosis. The results were favorable and so began the new normal, regular doctor visits and follow-up with the oncology team – small price to pay to have my health back.
Fast forward to 2015, the cancer has stayed away. I’ve raised more than $15K for colon cancer awareness and I actively participate in any speaking engagement, fundraiser, and PR campaign I am invited to participate in. Everything happens for a reason and I am certain that the reason I was dealt the colon cancer card was to help me appreciate the people and gifts in my life and to help raise awareness for this disease that takes so many lives, but can be prevented. I have a big mouth and I will use it to help people be more aware of colon cancer and it’s prevention. There is no shutting me up.
Big thanks to Kris who is featured in Get Your Rear in Gear – Kansas City‘s “Faces” campaign with three other young Kansas City-area survivors this March.