Imagine this— you’re a mom on a family road trip from Arizona to Ohio to see family. You’ve had some health troubles on and off again, but this time is different. You call and make an appointment with a gastrointestinal doctor for when you return home. But you forgot the almost three-hour time difference between Ohio and Arizona. When you realize your mistake, you almost don’t go to the appointment.
This is the situation Erin Teran found herself in in 2019. She went to her appointment and is thankful she did. As a busy mom of two teenagers, with a husband going to school for radiology, stage IV colorectal cancer wasn’t on her radar. A colonoscopy found a tumor, and two days later a CT scan on her abdomen found lesions on her liver.
“That was like, oh my gosh, what’s going on now? It looks like it’s spread.”
When the lesions on her liver were found, things ramped up. Before the lesions, Erin would have been prescribed an oral medication. Now she required more aggressive treatment. Ports, ostomy bags, and infusions five days a week for six weeks, along with oral pills for everyday radiation treatment.
“It was overwhelming…My doctor kept telling me this worst-case scenario stuff, that he’s going to have to take out half my liver. It was freaking me out.”
When they rescanned her liver, however, they found that her lesions had shrunk by fifty percent after her first round of chemo and radiation.
“He never told me that could happen.”
At the start of her treatment, Erin’s mom, Marilyn, flew in from Ohio to help take her to appointments, especially while her husband was finishing his degree. Erin’s aunt, Christy, would call every day in support and give Erin the space she needed to vent about the stress of treatments. Cousins would send gifts like homemade flasks, or gentle hair products. Her sister and friends would pray and send letters of hope and positivity when Erin was feeling down.
Part of her treatment involved a removable ostomy bag, and a port. To continue healing her liver, her doctor decided on an ablation during surgery for her ostomy bag. During surgery, her doctor couldn’t find her lesions.
“When I woke up, I remember my mom and my husband telling me that the doctor looked around for 20 to 30 minutes to do the ablation but couldn’t find the lesions. He said I had what is called ‘disappearing liver metastasis,’ where all the lesions disappeared with chemo…It was a miracle.”
Tests and surgery found cancer in lymph nodes, and treatment for cancer continued even after her liver lesions disappeared. “Those were much more difficult.”
COVID made treatments even more challenging , but her husband Daniel was always positive, and always ready to help. “He was sometimes more positive than me. He really encouraged me throughout all this.”
In June of 2020, Erin had her ostomy reversed, and her port taken out. “This is when I celebrate my No Evidence of Disease (NED) day, and I thankfully have been NED since.”
Since June of 2020, Erin’s been able to spend more time with family. She volunteers with Unified Sports and watches her son play games. She’s been able to travel and watch basketball with her husband and has made a return to Zumba classes and hiking.
When asked if she had any parting wisdom for colon cancer patients, Erin said this:
“You’re not alone. When I was going through treatment, I didn’t know about the communities around colon cancer. It was when I was finished that I found more support. So don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Always ask questions, and if something doesn’t feel right, go and get it checked out.”