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Faces of Blue: Kendra Portnova

By August 9, 2016Faces of Blue
Survivor Kendra Portnova and family

Survivor Kendra PortnovaMy cancer journey started in 2007. I was 32-years-old, married, and had two young boys. Life seemed busy with the juggle of work, kids, school, and my husband’s work schedule. The year before, I had noticed streaks of blood in my stool. I figured it was hemorrhoids from having the kids. The symptoms would come and go, and then it would be a lot, and then nothing for a long time. I became more and more tired, and fatigued. I just didn’t feel right. My co-workers even noticed I wasn’t the same, and even thought I lost weight on my already petite frame. They convinced me to get to a doctor, and jokingly said I couldn’t come back to work until I went to the doctor.

My first trip was to my OB/GYN. He did the regular exam and could feel a mass, but was not exactly sure where it was located. Even sonogram technology couldn’t determine its location, so he sent me to a GYN oncologist. My heart sank into my stomach when I heard the word oncologist. I was now really scared. I met with her, and this is where the whirlwind began. The next minute I knew she has scheduling me for “exploratory” surgery for the next week on November 13th, with pre-ops by the end of the week. When my blood work came back, it showed I was moderately to severely anemic! I had to immediately go and get a blood transfusion so I could have surgery next week.

Surgery day came, and when I woke up in recovery I didn’t feel any pain. I knew something was up. I awoke again in my room and saw my husband’s eyes welled up with tears. It was cancer, and they had found a tumor mass in my upper rectal/sigmoid colon region.  From there the whirlwind continued. I met with a surgeon, oncologist, and radiation oncologist all within days. The day I met with my RAD doctor, I had a treatment that day.  I also had out-patient surgery to have a port put in. After that I carried a chemo pack 24/7 for 5 weeks to shrink my tumor. It worked! I went from a fist size tumor to the size of peanut shell.  I was then scheduled for a colon resection in February 2008.  It was a successful surgery and the outcome determined that I was stage IIB . All 32 lymph nodes removed were clear of cancer.  I had a temporary ostomy for about 4 months, and continued 6 months of chemo and ended treatment in September 2008.

Blue Legacy Design colon cancer awareness jewelryThroughout the year, I chose to blog about my experience, mainly to keep family members up to date with how I was doing. But in turn out to be a very therapeutic process for me. I was releasing it on the blog and through my photographs – it was my art therapy. This led to more artistic adventures, and opportunities to share my story of surviving colon cancer at a young age. My most recent is Blue Legacy Designs – hand stamped jewelry (and other assorted designs) for colon cancer awareness. I wanted to have a special necklace to wear during my treatment that was about colon cancer, but never could find something I liked. So I decided to make it myself. This early concept and idea was the beginning of Blue Legacy Designs. This has given me a platform to share my story of being a young colon cancer survivor and that there is hope.

Since being diagnosed with colon cancer at a young age, it made me aware that this disease does not just happen to old people.  I sought out a young colon cancer support group via the internet. Being part of this group helped, because I knew I wasn’t the only young colorectal cancer patient out there!

I’m a woman of faith and I pull my encouragement from the Bible: “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” 1  Corinthians 16:13. I also love this quote from Joel Osteen; ” God can turn around ANY situation. He can turn your darkest hour into your brightest hour. NOTHING is too hard for HIM” But ultimately, I would say, believe! Believe you can beat it! Just believe! Never give up!

To me, get your rear in gear means get UP off your rear and get moving! Meaning, get yourself to the doctor if you have changes in your stool. Get your colonoscopy scheduled! Get others informed and aware of their “REAR,” too!
Blue Legacy Designs colon cancer awareness jewelry

A portion of the sale from each Blue Legacy Design goes to support colon cancer awareness.

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Join the discussion One Comment

  • Lorna says:

    The Blue Legacy Design is a beautiful, almost Shamanic or mystical shape.
    My mother was ill for at least 8 months before being taken almost against her will for a diagnoses in June 2011. She knew… She was diagnosed as stage IV, too late, was operated upon, most of intestines removed, some liver. Doc gave her 3-6 mos, but she was gone in 2 and 1/2 months, at a young 80. Xoxoxo to anyone having reason to be on this site….

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