My name is Ann Wilson – I was diagnosed with stage I colon cancer at 47 years old on August 14, 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, after a misdiagnosis.
I had my first colonoscopy at 45 because of some blood in my stool. It turned out to be hemorrhoids, but I was still scheduled for a colonoscopy two years later. At that second colonoscopy, the doctor found a lesion which he believed was in the sigmoid-colon area. He scheduled me for surgery three weeks later.
But during those three weeks, I had time to think. It didn’t feel right to me that I was having surgery without even having an MRI to locate the lesion, so I reached out to another doctor and requested an MRI. Sure enough, the lesion wasn’t in the sigmoid-colon area at all – it was in the high rectal area.
I still can’t believe that the surgeon would have gone forward with the surgery without having definitively located the lesion. I ‘fired’ him and have not gone back to him since – it scares me to think they might have cut me open, only to find nothing there, or even worse, missed the lesion in my rectal area altogether. This is one of the reasons I’m so passionate about following your gut and being your own advocate when it comes to your body and your health.
Before my surgery, I had chemo for six weeks – 28 radiation treatments of the Xeloda pill (which is basically the pill version of FOLFOX regimen.) I didn’t feel great on chemo and had some problems with heartburn and indigestion, but I’m a fighter and got through it. I actually managed to flip three houses while I was on chemo. In November of 2020, my new surgeon found and removed the lesion, which was 1.5 cm in size.
In late December, I had my scans and was told everything looked clear. About five months later, I feel good and I’m just so grateful we caught the cancer when we did. I’m active, I’m fit, and I’m ready to move on to the next thing in my life. My reversal is planned for April 1 and after that I will truly feel like I am back to normal.
Moving forward, I told my medical team that I wanted a CEA every three months, scans every 6 months, and a yearly colonoscopy. I believe it’s important to ask for what you want or need from your medical team and if they can’t or won’t give it to you, you need to find another team or doctor.
My biggest message today is “Be your own advocate.” I was misdiagnosed and could have had a surgery that took out part of me that was completely healthy. Remember, your doctor is only practicing medicine. Trust your gut and ask ALL of your questions – I actually had a few surgeons tell me I asked too many questions, but I just found different surgeons. Be aggressive, and fight for yourself.
Any questions, I am here to help you. I believe in paying it forward and I would love to help others. You can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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