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Meet the One Million Strong – Eileen A. from California

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MEET EILEEN

Eileen Algaze, Survivor

Monarch Beach, CA

EILEEN’S STORY

The Irony of Cancer -I am 67 years old and have survived colon cancer four times:  stage 0 in 2001, stage 4 metastasized to the liver in 2008, further metastasized to lymph node on liver in 2012 and now in a cluster of six nodes in the abdomen. After major surgeries with complications, grueling chemotherapy, loss of my hair, my body parts and my marriage, I’m still here.

My mother died of breast cancer when I was 10 and my brother Kenneth was eight. I knew Ken was afraid to lose me to the same enemy.  My brother was born deaf. I always was very protective of him.

Going to doctors were out of Ken’s comfort zone. Only once he actually asked me to take him to urgent care due to recurring stomach pain. The diagnosis was a bleeding ulcer, but with our family history, the doctor told him to get a colonoscopy as soon as possible. He promised me that he would take care of it. He didn’t.

At the end of August 2010, Ken hadn’t answered emails for over a week. I was so concerned that I was going to over to his place and bang the door down. My daughter and sister assured me that one of them would go after work — to protect Ken from my power trip, and save his apartment door.

My sister found our brother on the floor next to his couch. The television was on and a bottle of antacids lay on the coffee table. Details of the coroner’s autopsy report were more shocking than my brother’s sudden death. A relatively small – 4x3x3 cm  - tumor caused “complete blockage of the descending colon.”  The coroner told us that many men who live alone ignore symptoms and avoid doctors.

I asked my oncologist to review the autopsy report. He explained that my brother’s cancer was very early stage, treatable and curable but the location of the small, detectable tumor caused his death. I was told that sometimes single men are in denial of health issues.  Maybe it’s pride. Who knows. But, survival guilt is sometimes worse than surviving.

EILEEN’S ADVICE:

Pay attention to your body and enjoy quality, not quantity.

WHAT ONE MILLION STRONG MEANS TO EILEEN:

Victors, not victims.

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