When my doctor made me get a CT scan in September 2015, you could see a tumor throbbing in my abdomen. I was told that I most likely had colon cancer, but I had to get a colonoscopy to be sure. I knew it was cancer.
It was. The colonoscopy showed that my colon was 90% blocked, so I got scheduled for surgery quickly: 80% of my colon and 36 inches of my small intestine were removed. My oncologists agreed I should do 12 rounds of chemo to be extra cautious. I finished the 6 months and thought I was done and on the way to beating cancer.
Six weeks later, I woke up with throbbing pain in my abdomen again. Scans, tests, and a biopsy later it turned out that my cancer was chemo resistant and had moved to lymph nodes all over my body, and was now growing in the abdominal wall.
They called it incurable.
We tried three different chemo cocktails, which all failed. I then got approved for a clinical trial drug… but before I was able to take it, cancer and scar tissue had grown around my stomach and closed it off. Before I could start the clinical trial, I had a 25-day hospital stay (during which I almost died), ending with me having a G-J tube and being fed by TPN for 450 days.
Once I was able to start the clinical trial drug (now an approved drug on the market), it worked to shrink my tumor and keep it from growing. Since then, I had surgery to fix my stomach and a huge hernia.
Altogether, I’ve spent 82 days in the hospital, went through 10 surgeries, had chronic pancreatitis and back pain, and suffered from pretty bad PTSD and anxiety. In the first seven years of my colorectal cancer journey (through the end of 2021) I have had 110 chemo treatments, and the cancer is somewhat stable for now.
I am still fighting and learning to use my journey to advocate for colorectal cancer and mental health.