When I was first diagnosed with Stage IV colorectal cancer at the age of 31, I thought “this is it.”
My doctors scheduled a colonoscopy after I came in suffering from extreme exhaustion, bloating, and occasional bright red blood in my bowel movements. Prior to my colonoscopy, the doctors thought it was hemorrhoids. I am the first person in my family to have colon cancer – I don’t have any family history of this disease and my genetic testing came back completely normal.
When they told me I had cancer, It felt like my life was coming to an end. I wanted to prepare for my funeral, write letters to my kids, and prepare for the end.
I cried myself to sleep countless nights, got very sick, and felt like my body was starting to wither away: I lost a ton of weight, lost almost all of my hair, and just thought my time had come. I was scared sh*tless and cried when I went to my first chemo appointment, cried when I went for my first liver biopsy, cried when I had to have my port put in for chemo, and I bawled my eyes out while they were preparing me for my liver resection, SCARED TO DEATH I wouldn’t make it through that surgery!
I cried myself to sleep countless nights while on chemo: the way it makes you feel, the pain, the smell of the chemo coming out through sweat, and the way you can immediately hate your favorite food when you try to eat it, all make for a rough journey! I never want anyone to have to go through what I’ve gone and am going through.
However, I AM STILL HERE! I am currently NED (no evidence of disease), and today, I AM A SURVIVOR!
I made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2019, got to meet my new niece (a new life is so beautiful), got to build a bond and relationship with my mother that I never had before, celebrated my son’s 9th birthday in 2019, celebrated my other son’s 13th birthday 2020, my daughter’s 12th birthday 2020, my 32nd birthday in 2020, Mother’s Day in 2020, and plan on celebrating many more years to come with my beautiful family & friends!
A few things I have learned from this whole journey is that LIFE IS SHORT, each new day is a BLESSING, and you should live life like there is no tomorrow because for some there isn’t! This quote about hope sums it up perfectly:
“Whatever you do, hold on to hope. The tiniest thread will twist into an unbreakable cord. Let hope anchor you in the possibility that this is not the end of your story, that change will bring you to peaceful shores.” (from Marc Chernoff, 12 Things My Grandmother Told Me Before She Died)
I’ve also learned that kindness is beautiful and that you never know what someone is going through (for example, I’ve been made fun of TWICE this week for wearing my mask in public, but those teenagers didn’t stop to think that maybe it’s for a very good reason). I’ve also been told by numerous people “But you don’t look sick, how do you have cancer?” I’m learning that we should never be quick to judge or to be mean to others – after all, kindness is free!
Check-in on your loved ones: call them, visit them, and make memories with them! Memories are so important – it’s all that is left when one passes away!!!!
My motto is: Don’t let life pass you by, you only get one.