Sally Wojcik, Patient / Survivor
Charleston, South Carolina
Mar. 14, 2016 is a day I will never be able to forget, because changed the course of my life forever. That’s the day I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancerm with metastasis to my liver. My life before that day was very ordinary, I was 49 years old, working hard as a school nurse and taking care of my home, my husband and my three children. I lived a very active life, exercised, ate well and was fit, trim and healthy. Or so I thought anyway!
One morning I noticed a small amount of blood on the toilet tissue. Definitely nothing major and from what people speak of with hemorrhoids this seemed like nothing. It occurred on and off for several months. I eventually had an appointment for a blood pressure check with my primary care doctor and in passing mentioned this symptom to her. Thank God she took me seriously! She referred me to a GI doctor for a colonoscopy.
Even the GI doctor said all my blood work was normal, and he felt there was nothing to worry about. I woke up from that colonoscopy with my husband and doctor by my side, and a photo of an 4cm tumor in my sigmoid colon. The CT scan that was done the same day revealed four small tumors in my liver. Still to this day I type this and it is truly unbelievable to me. I met my husband when we were 16 and we have been through a lot together, never had I seen him cry as much as he did the year I was diagnosed.
Telling our children was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. The early days that followed are a blur. I had nine procedures, saw five doctors in 15 days. On Mar. 30, the day before my 50th birthday, I started chemotherapy. I had six rounds before surgery to remove 68 percent of my liver and the diseased part of my colon. I had two positive lymph nodes and eight more rounds of chemo.
I now have a loop ileostomy. I am now preparing for my second surgery to have it reversed next week.
I have learned what is really important in life. Most of the things I hurried to do every day are meaningless. I savor every day. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. We all need to make each day count. I no longer sweat the small stuff.
Cancer has actually brought me closer to my husband, my children, my family, my friends and my God. I feel that it is important to trust your doctors and be an active participant in your our care. Ask questions, educate yourself. Surround yourself with positive loving people.
I received hundreds of cards in the past 11 months. I have each and every one of them hung up on the wall. When I need a pick me up I reread them.