In the summer and early fall of 2014, I began having “symptoms” but didn’t tell anyone. I was 37, so I thought it couldn’t be anything serious, right? A year later I ended up in the hospital but was sent home and told to “follow up with my primary care provider.” I waited six more months till the pain was so unbearable and made the appointment. My primary care doctor sent me to a GI doctor who luckily took my symptoms seriously and sent me for a sigmoidoscopy on Friday, June 19th. I remember waking up in the recovery room after the test and thinking “Wow that wasn’t so bad.”
The doctor came over and just had this solemn look on his face. He said he would call me the next day with the results. He said if I did not hear from him by 12 p.m. the next day, to call his office and leave a message and he would call me right back. Sure enough, he called me back the next day before 11 a.m. and said “It’s cancer.”
After an MRI, I was officially diagnosed with stage III colorectal cancer. I was 38 years old, married with young kids and was in pretty good health. How on earth did I have cancer??? Starting in July 2015, I went through six weeks of radiation(which made me so sick). In October 2015, I went in to have the tumor removed and received my permanent colostomy bag. Then in December 2015, I started four rounds of IV Chemo.
Seven years later, I’m still here. I really believe if I had waited much longer, that would not be the case. I go faithfully every August for my bloodwork and checkup with my oncologist. I understand what it means to be dying and to have to fight for every day that you get to be here! I do not take it for granted. My kids are now 17 and 19. I’m so glad that I still get to be here to watch them grow up and become young adults.
I’m sharing my story because I don’t want people to think the same way I did. That I’m young and don’t need to go see a doctor. Just an annual physical with your doctor and sharing your symptoms can save your life!