To say a stage III colorectal cancer diagnosis at age 45 is a “shock” is a massive understatement. This revelation is even bigger when you believe you’re in excellent health and haven’t had any family history of this disease. It takes you to your knees and into the darkness of the unknown. Fortunately, I had an amazing team at my side to help me through.
I was diagnosed in May 2017. We were both shell-shocked that it was hard to remember almost anything. During every doctors appointment my husband would record everything with his phone. My gastroenterologist is a rockstar, completing multiple colonoscopies during surveillance where I’ve managed to laugh during every single visit. He also immediately sent me to the best surgeon he knew. My surgeon instilled so much confidence that I never doubted that I wouldn’t recover… even with an ileostomy. My radiation team made the 25 sessions seamless. And my oncologist and his staff kept me going through chemo when I felt like giving up during the last few cycles. I know it all seems like a nightmare, but there were more days of laughter and love than there were of tears.
Your mindset is the most important part of treatment. Keeping a sense of humor when everything seems to be going wrong, and hope for the future, can get you through it. Not just surviving, but thriving. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. There’s so much life to live!
Since treatment, I’ve had the opportunity to see my daughter get married. I never say no to a trip, whether it’s to the mountains or a beach! I celebrated my 50th birthday in Las Vegas with my husband and friends last summer.
Most recently, I went to Maui and got my first tattoo that says “no matter what”….. because no matter what happens in life, I will never forget that I have a loving Heavenly Father that will never leave me. And no matter what curve ball life throws at me, I will never stop fighting.
So to everyone going through this journey, please remember that there are so many people fighting with you! And there is an amazing life regardless of cancer. Thank you – from the very bottom of my heart – to all of the family members, caregivers, friends, doctors, nurses, and support staff that are helping us all win the battle against colorectal cancer.