Colon Cancer. Stage IV. = Everyone’s worst fears. I still remember hearing the news, crushed and devastated that my mom would have to endure months and months of recovering from surgeries, chemotherapies, and numerous lab draws. As a RN, I have seen the worst of the worst, and of course my mind automatically turns to the worst-case scenarios. Not my mom though. She is a freaking ray of sunshine. Not only has she remained positive throughout the entire experience, she has endured over 2 years of intense chemotherapy, endured 2 major surgeries, had an awful allergic reaction to an antibody that left her face full of pus and scars, and has been asked by her oncologist to speak to other patients to brighten their days! My mom was diagnosed in 2012 with stage IV colon cancer. We have attended three Get Your Rear in Gear® Run/Walks and are overwhelmed with the amount of support we have received from our friends and family. It is now 2016, she is officially tumor free and off of chemotherapy! I always ask my mom, “Are you scared it is going to come back at each doctor’s appointment?” She always says, “I can’t live my life in fear. If it’s back, bring it on.”
My mom is my BFF (Best Friend Forever). Everyone knows that her and I are one in the same. Although she has been through so much, she is always so positive and happy. It honestly is amazing how someone can go through so much and still never be grumpy or negative.
My first reaction was shock and fear. I knew that she had gone to the doctor and they found lesions on her liver (we kind of worked backward and found her metastases before her primary colon site). I had begun my first day on the pediatric oncology floor at my new job. I remember texting her and asking her how did the results go, and she should change the subject. I knew that she didn’t want to upset me at work and for my hour-long drive back home. Immediately that evening, I walked into the house and said, “You have cancer, don’t you?” And she turned to me and just said “yes”.
Although I am a registered nurse (a pediatric oncology one), news always hits home differently. Although I knew the medical lingo and aspects of the treatment plan, it was hard to imagine this was now immediately impacting my family, MY mom. I remember my stepdad having to pull over on the side of the road on the way home from one of my mom’s first initial appointments because I was hyperventilating.
My mom’s slogan for her cancer has always been “live, love, laugh, & BELIEVE”. She always says that we can’t control when bad things happen but we can control our reactions and how we can overcome them. Myself, my brother, my stepdad, my aunt, and her closest friends (including my mom, despite my hesitation due to risk of infection grrrr) all have “believe” tattoos to always remember my mom’s life philosophy.
“Get Your Rear in Gear” to me means taking control of your life and your colon. To many, including my family and my mom, her diagnosis was a shock. She was before the age of 50. We never thought in a million years she would be told she has Stage IV colon cancer after going to the doctor with “right sided pain” (her liver metastasis site). Getting your rear in gear means creating awareness of your health and your loved one’s health, and increasing screening! I am going next week for my first colonoscopy at the age of 26!Return to Faces of Blue