Kimberley Newcomer, Patient/Survivor
In Feb. 2008, after returning from a trip to the Dominican Republic, I went to the doctor complaining of constipation. I was told it was probably just the change of diet on the trip and was advised to use laxatives. The doctor took a chest X-ray, which did not show any lung nodules. I knew the importance of early detection and would often encourage others to see their doctor and request a colonoscopy even though they hadn’t reached the magic age of 50. I did everything I was supposed to do; I sought medical attention when the symptoms first appeared.
A month later, I returned to the doctor complaining of ongoing problems with constipation and blood in my stool. The doctor who was on call did a rectal examination and told me I had hemorrhoids. When I mentioned my father had been diagnosed with colon cancer and that my general practitioner was recommending I have my first colonoscopy, his response was that it was only hemorrhoids.
In Sep. 2008, I had a cough that would not go away. I went to the doctor, who took a chest X-ray to determine if I had pneumonia. I was told my lungs were clear and was given some antibiotics and cough medicine. Early the following day the doctor’s office called at to ask whether I would be available for a CT scan that afternoon because the radiologist had noticed five nodules on both lungs. I again received a call the next morning asking me to come into the doctor’s office.
Nov. 2008, I had a lung surgery at North Memorial Hospital. It was then that I learned that the nodules on my lungs were malignant. I spent the night in the hospital and met the oncologist assigned to my case the next day. The oncologist indicated that they had examined the cells from the tumor and determined that the cancer had spread to my lungs from my colon.
The doctor told me that I was not a surgical candidate. They intended to hit it hard with chemo. I would receive chemo every two weeks for the next four to six months. She anticipated that the chemo would take care of the tumors on the lungs and the tumor would hopefully shrink, and that radiation was also needed. Then it could be removed at a future date.
After 12 rounds of chemo and then radiation with chemotherapy they removed part of my colon, lobe of my right lung, two resections of the right lung, and performed an ileostomy. After surgery I started chemo again, after six more rounds I had a scan, which showed another tumor in the left lung. This seemed to go on for the next three years with chemo and then another lung resection. The chemo stopped working after 70+ rounds, and they started taking out the tumors on my lungs as they showed up. I continued on Avastin for only a few months before it was stopped.
Then a miracle happened, the tumors stopped and I have been NED for 4 years. Now I try to live my best life and I want everyone to give back as much as possible by volunteering and talking to others recently diagnosed with colon cancer.
I want people to know that there is life to live not only during treatment, but also after treatment. I want everyone to know that it is possible to live a full life even after a cancer diagnosis.