Albany, New York
My name is Kenny Toye, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Colorectal cancer when I was 25-years-old. After my family’s farm in Eastern Washington State burned down in the middle of the winter, I decided to finish college in a warmer place and I moved to Honolulu, Hawaii. I was single, and convinced my two best friends to move with me. At the time of my diagnosis, I was signing up for classes and working 3 different jobs in order to afford the Hawaiian lifestyle. Cancer is not synonymous with convenience.
Prior to diagnosis, I would constantly speculate about what was going on in my intestines. I did not know I was carrying a gene, better known as “Lynch Syndrome” that, if not properly monitored, grows tumors in one’s digestive system. I Googled terms like “bloody stool,” “mucous in stool,” “frequent urge to go poop,” trying to self-diagnose my issues. Search results told me that I ate the wrong things or had digestive issues. I ignored the mentions of colon cancer.
My treatment plan included immediate chemo and radiation to shrink the tumor, followed by surgery to remove my colon included with a temporary ileostomy. Following surgery, I had 16 rounds of intense chemo to kill any free roaming cancer cells in my body.
Cancer treatment is painful. Cancer will beat us down and test us mentally, physically and emotionally. Such as life. We all are equipped with a two tiny voices in our minds that whisper; quit, can’t, stop, no and don’t. We have the luxury of deciding which voice to listen to.
My cancer diagnosis dragged me to the lowest of lows, My body broke down from the treatment and I saw death at every chemo appointment. However, im learning how to deal with the fear of the disease and cancer is becoming my friend.
I appreciate the perspective gained from my cancer battle. I will be on active surveillance for the rest of my life, cancer hasn’t stopped me from living. I wake each morning with enthusiasm for life. Im pursuing my dreams, now managing a top thoroughbred farms in Upstate New York. With each healthy day, my goals become realistic, like winning Thoroughbred Horse Racing’s triple crown…. twice!
I decided to be an advocate because I remember how isolated and sad I felt when I was diagnosed. I felt emasculated by some of the procedures because I didn’t have a younger male survivor figure to connect with. As an advocate I want to set an example and provide hope for the newly diagnosed, those undergoing treatment and the survivors.
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Kenny has found healing though sharing his story. Fight with courage and share your story.