My 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.
Throughout 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.
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!