I am a stage IV colon cancer survivor, 42-year old mother of two teenagers, a wife, and a mother of 5 rescue dogs. Yes, I said 5. 🙂 We have moved around quite a bit when I was a kid as well as an adult, but we’ve stayed on the East Coast, and have lived most of my life between Virginia and North Carolina. I have a BS degree in Psychology, as well as a 2-year degree in Interior Design. I have worked many different jobs in my career, but right now, I am a volunteer and take care of my family.
Since I was diagnosed at 39 at Stage IV, it was especially hard on my family and friends, since it was a shock to everyone. For me personally, I am “problem solver” type of person, so I just went into “get this problem solved” mode. My attitude was more about making sure my family was OK, and I never even gave it a thought that I wasn’t going to beat it. I was just sure I was, and would do anything I had to do to do it. I said, “I am a mom, a wife, a family member, and a friend…. I am not going anywhere”. I am now two years cancer-free, NED!! (No evidence of disease).
Some words of wisdom I have for another person who is fighting this disease is to take it one step at a time, and one day at a time. I lived my life during that time, and still do, in “Chapters.” The doctors tell you all these details and look ahead to what their plan is next. I would listen to it, and then just focus on what I was dealing with at that time. When I was having colon surgery, I just tried to focus on that, not the chemo treatments coming, or the possible other surgeries, etc. Then, while in chemo, I would just try to get through that. It was hard enough since I was so sick, that I just tried to focus on my off week. Then, when I was getting ready for liver surgery, I focused on that, and didn’t think about the next chemo treatments. It made it easier to go through that year, looking at it in my “Chapters.” “One Day at a Time” is a motto that many people say, but it’s hard to live it. When you actually live it, it really does make a difference.
The phrase “Get Your Rear in Gear” means so many things to me. When I was first diagnosed, my nurse navigator was a member of the group here in Charlotte, NC, and I remember her telling me about it. She gave us a bracelet from their recent 5K and we still have it. I am now a helping member of the organization here, and I am so happy to be giving back. Just to help make a difference in someone else’s life that is either battling or cancer-free is my mission. And it also means to me that I make sure I always “get off my butt” and be free, with exercising, participating in life, and taking care of myself.