I was originally brushed off when I went to the ER with severe symptoms. The doctors didn’t even give me a proper exam before sending me out the door.
I knew something wasn’t right with my body. It was then I decided I had to become my own health advocate, and I wasn’t backing down until the doctors listened. I continued to push until I received a colonoscopy two weeks later.
When I woke up, I was told by a doctor I met right before the colonoscopy that I had cancer. I was 36 years old, and my daughters had just turned 6 and 8 years old.
I was diagnosed with Stage 3B colorectal cancer.
I had everything to fight for; I took on a death sentence and survived. I started my fight with 25 rounds of radiation and oral chemo.
I continued to work during this phase of my treatment, and in fact only a handful of people even knew I had cancer. It was very important for me to keep things as normal as possible for me and my daughters.
Six weeks after I finished treatment, I straightened up my office at work and planned to return when my treatment was finished. The next morning I had surgery to remove the cancerous tumor which left me with a temporary ileostomy.
I had a port placed, and over the next 6 months I was given 12 rounds of FOLFOX. I was the youngest person in the chemo suite every other week when I went in for my 4 hour injection.
When I left the chemo suite, I took a pump home with me for the next 48 hours to continue the chemo injection. My ileostomy reversal surgery took place 8 weeks after my final chemo treatment.
I am still learning to adjust to my “new normal” 3 years after my diagnosis. The stress put on my body during my treatment led to me needing to have my gallbladder removed.
I also was given a Grave’s Disease diagnosis which was treated with radioactive iodine. I was not able to return to the job I held when I was diagnosed. My diagnosis forced me to take a hard look at my life.
I now view my diagnosis as a blessing. I spend more time with my daughters and husband, my faith was renewed, and my passion is for healthy living and continuing the fight against colorectal cancer. I experience chemo brain, anxiety, depression, and other side effects many colorectal cancer fighters endure. I still have bad days, but I am still here!
I fight with courage by sharing my story in my Facebook group Mandi’s Mission. It is my mission to spread awareness, education, and support to as many people as possible. I want to be part of the fight to bring more awareness to the importance of research for preventative care as well as a cure.
Colorectal cancer does not discriminate or check ID cards. Colorectal cancer is on the rise in individuals younger than 50. It is important for those younger than 50 to understand the risks and symptoms of colorectal cancer.
I fight for myself, my daughters, and those under the age of 50.