Lauren Kehl, stage IV colon cancer
Calumet City, Illinois
I never thought an upset stomach would turn out to be something so serious. That’s why I ignored my symptoms for an entire year. Heck, what 31-year-old thinks about cancer? I wish I did. Instead, I ignored the way I was feeling until it got so bad I couldn’t function. I was getting sick too often and I had no energy at all. I could barely do anything. I was struggling at work and I was struggling at home with my 6-year-old daughter, Olivia.
I finally saw a doctor and after a CT scan, colonoscopy, blood transfusion, MRI, and liver biopsy the diagnosis was clear as day: stage IV colon cancer. The cancer had spread to my liver and the tumor on my liver was too large for surgery.
I started chemo right away with the hopes that the liver tumor would shrink enough for surgery. The doctors took advantage of my young age and otherwise healthy body and hit me hard with a strong chemo regimen.
The chemo wasn’t so bad at first, and part of me liked going to the “chemo lounge”. I met some amazing and strong people there. I looked forward to chatting with them each time I would go in for treatment. They became a support system for me along with my family and friends. The support I’ve felt throughout this process has been amazing. It keep me going.
I never felt like my diagnosis was a death sentence. I always felt that it would all turn out okay. It had/has to turn out okay, because I am not leaving Olivia any time soon. She kept me strong and I knew that I would do whatever was necessary to beat cancer. I kept my attitude as positive as I could, and even when the chemo side effects got to be too much to handle I pushed on.
After 9 rounds we got the news we are hoping for. The tumor on my liver shrunk enough for surgery! Surgery went well, but cancer did return in my liver.
My daughter tells me I can do this. She tells me I am strong and that she is proud of me. She’s right. I am strong. And I will do this, I will do this for her and for all my loved ones who are supporting me.
It’s amazing how such a terrible and scary disease can have so many positives things coming from it. I have so much I could complain about, but there’s so much more I be thankful for instead.
Cancer is real. No one is immune. It’s so important to listen to your body and take care of yourself. Because even though I’ve found my silver lining, I don’t wish this upon anyone else. My story isn’t over yet. I’ll keep fighting and I’ll win.
WHAT ONE MILLION STRONG MEANS TO LAUREN
One million strong means we are all in this fight together.
I was sitting in the waiting room at the hospital before my CT scan when I met another woman with colon cancer. She sat by me and we talked about symptoms, side effects, advice, etc. a total stranger but we had a common bond: we were in the same fight.
No one fights alone.
Talk! Talk to the people you meet in infusion centers and hospitals. You never know what you can learn from someone else’s story or what someone can learn from yours.