My name is Brooke and I am a single mom with 2 kids – my daughter Victoria (16) and my son Michael (12). I have stage 4 rectal cancer and was diagnosed when I was 34.
For a while I knew something was wrong with me, I just didn’t know what it was. My symptoms included lower abdomen pain, severe constipation, dizziness, fatigue, lower back pain, bloody stools, and my symptoms were getting progressively worse as time went on. I eventually went to the doctor and scheduled a colonoscopy for October 10, 2017, just a few weeks before my 35th birthday. I awoke from my colonoscopy to hear that devastating news. We found a tumor. And it’s cancerous.
I was at a loss for words. Alone in the recovery, I immediately started crying and all I could think about was my children. The nurse comforted me and told me to try to relax and wait until I find out everything that is going on.
I underwent a lot of tests. The doctors told me that the cancer had spread to my liver. Over the next twelve months, I had four rounds of chemotherapy, a 28-day cycle of chemo/radiation, a fourteen-hour surgery to remove the tumors in my rectum and liver and to put in a temporary ileostomy, and another six rounds of chemo. And then I had the ileostomy reversal right before Thanksgiving of 2018.
In 2019, the cancer came back in my liver and spread to the peritoneum of my abdomen. I did another round of chemo, but this time it was three different types of chemo all at once. One of them made me so sick, I actually couldn’t continue with it. I thought that chemo was going to kill me, not the cancer.
In December of 2019 I had another surgery to remove the tumors and to put in a permanent colostomy, which I requested. After my CT scan in March of 2020, they found that the cancer had come back yet again, and the doctors told me that I would be on “chemo for life”. The news was absolutely devastating.
So here I am, almost a year later doing my chemo treatments every other week. All I can do is take it day by day and pray the chemo is doing its job and keeping the cancer at bay.
I want to share my journey because I want to help encourage others to go to the doctor when they are not feeling well. I know that colons are not the easiest body part to talk about. It can be embarrassing. But if sharing my experiences helps even one person go to the doctor, it’s worth it.