For an entire year I ignored the pain in my stomach. I bushed it off as symptoms from Crohn’s disease. I was never a fan of going to the doctor, and I wasn’t going to start going now. After all, I was 31-years-young. What could possibly be wrong with me? Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. The pain and sickness was one thing, but I was so tired I couldn’t function. I was struggling at work and I was struggling at home with my then 5-year-old daughter. So I went to the doctor.
I’ll never forget the way the doctor looked at me after my scan results were in. He had a look of panic mixed with sadness in his eyes. He scheduled me for a colonoscopy and it was then that I got the news. I had cancer. Not only did I have a tumor in my colon, but I had a very large one on my liver. I was stage IV and was told surgery was not an option for me. I was given 6 months to “maybe” a year to live.
I started on an intense regimen of chemo (a combination of both standard colon cancer regimens, FOLFOX and FOLFIRI with Avastin) with the hopes that the liver tumor would shrink enough for surgery. The chemo wiped me out. I lost all my energy, was sick all the time, and my long blonde hair was now the contents of my bathroom garbage can. So many days I cried that I wanted to give up. But I’m a mother and life isn’t about me, so I kept fighting for my daughter.
After 9 rounds of chemo I received the news I was hoping for – I was ready for surgery! I had 65% of my liver removed in what was the most painful experience of my life. My amazing surgeon delivered the news to me that he removed all cancer from my liver. Colon surgery was next, and compared to liver surgery it was a walk in the park. I was cancer-free.
I was getting ready to return to my teaching job that I so dearly missed. My life was going to be mine again. Then I received more bad news. There were 5 new tumors on my liver. My cancer came back in full force after only a month. So it was back to chemo.
The fight is still on. I am currently going through a chemo regimen that is much easier on me. I still have my days of pain and sickness, but I also have good days. On those good days I embrace life as much as I can. I am responding well to chemo. Everything is shrinking and my numbers get better each cycle. Cancer is not a death sentence. Cancer will not take me away from my daughter. I will win!