On November 27, 2012 I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. It was the year my youngest son was to graduate from high school and such a busy time.
In the fall of that year I started noticing a little blood in my stool, based on conversations that I’d had with a friend that worked for the local gastroenterology office, this wasn’t abnormal. I had no pain whatsoever, I had a normal, active life, and had no other symptoms. It went on like that sporadically for about two months until one night I was home alone and it got worse, quite a bit worse. This time it was enough to scare me into making a doctor’s appointment.
About a week later, I was in Dr. Frank’s office scheduling my first colonoscopy. What the heck! I’m not 50!!! I even tried convincing the doctor that it could wait until after the beginning of the new year so I would only have to meet my insurance deductible once. But he ended up convincing me that peace of mind for something like this was far more important. Then there was the prep, then the colonoscopy, then scarfing down a huge breakfast after. My son was my responsible party that drove me to and from that appointment on his 17th birthday. On November 27th, we found out that I indeed, had colon cancer.
From there everything was a whirlwind, I broke down into tears at my first meeting with the oncologist as I was bombarded with far too much information for any one person to handle. I was then scheduled for my resection on December 19th. All of my doctors, more doctors than I’ve had in all of my years combined, were very confident that the surgery was going to go off without a hitch with the worst of it being perhaps a bit of chemotherapy. Boy were they wrong! Surgery did go well, until three days later I developed a severe infection, was rushed into emergency surgery, then woke up a few days later in ICU with not only more holes in my body, but also an ileostomy. I spent 19 days total in the hospital, five of which were in ICU. My Christmas was there, as was New Year, but they finally agreed to release me.
Honestly, the ileostomy was the hardest part of the ordeal for me mentally. I knew I was tough, I knew I could handle the chemo, the radiation, and whatever else they were going to throw at me. But having this disgusting thing hanging off of my body was devastating. I thank my lucky stars for the home health nurse that I finally agreed to let come to my home and work patiently with me to find a method that worked. In retrospect it’s saved my life and I wish I had been more aware of support groups that are available out there because all I felt was shame.
I had six and a half months of chemotherapy during which, one of my final treatments caused a severe allergic reaction almost putting me back into the hospital. I also underwent five and a half weeks of radiation which led to some pretty severe radiation burns. What I went through medically was complete and utter hell but what I went through mentally was torture. I lost my spirit, became depressed, and all I wanted was my normal life back.
I continued to work throughout my ordeal and I was there almost full-time only taking off when I had to have that blasted pump attached to me pumping in poison for two days after every chemo treatment.
Nobody gave up on me. Somehow with the support of my friends and family, I managed. I bargained with my doctors to get me better by my birthday on October 1, 2013 and that became our combined goal. By August 28, 2013 it was official, I was in remission!
I know I’m lucky, this is a horrible disease that is not as mainstream as others because it’s just not something anyone wants to talk about. Ass cancer is gross and people cringe at the thought of a colonoscopy. Well I’m here to tell you…. A colonoscopy is not as bad as you’d imagine and I’m pretty much a pro at them now.
What terrifies me most is the possibility that my boys will go through what I have. I’m adopted so I have no family history and I’ve been tested for Lynch Syndrome and I’m negative, but there’s always that chance.
Today I’m happy, healthy, active, and love life. I’ve just ran in my fourth Get Your Rear in Gear 5k to help spread awareness, I’ve lent my support to others going through this terrible ordeal, and give back to my community any chance I get.
Life is here to be cherished and a day doesn’t go by when I’m not reminded of what I went through. My prayers are with those that are dealing with this and their families too. Cancer is difficult at any level and early diagnosis is key… know your body and be proactive.Return to Faces of Blue