Patient / Survivor
Lake Oswego, Oregon
I was diagnosed with colon cancer Oct. 2015 during a ‘routine’ colonoscopy at age 49. I was having a routine endoscopy due to having reflux as well. My GI suggested the colonoscopy since I would need one when I turned 50 the following year. When I came out of the procedure, they moved me to the far end of the recovery area.
I joked to my husband that was the area they move you for bad news. Well, I thought I was joking.
My GI came in with tears in her eyes to tell me I had cancer. I think I was in shock because the first thing I did was laugh!
I then apologized to her for having to tell me, since I know her personally. She had already set up an appointment with a surgeon for the following day.
Less than two weeks later, I was undergoing surgery for what everyone assured me would be an early stage cancer. When the pathologist gave us the findings, it was stage IIIB. My world forever changed from that day on. With kids in middle school and no extended family nearby, my parents essentially moved in to help. Our extended community provided more help, care and support than I could have ever imagined.
I had complications every step of the way, including a toxic reaction to 5fu, with the worst burns my second oncologist had ever seen. I switched after a few chemo rounds. I finally completed six months of chemotherapy in Jun. 2016.
Recovery has been long and challenging. I’ve been treated for brain chemo, received PT for neuropathy, dealt with dental erosion and effects on my thyroid, among other things. What I know is that my GI saved my life. I was told this by the surgeon and oncologist. She told me I’ve had the ‘Katie Couric’ impact on our community with so many more friends and acquaintances getting screened.
I’ve openly shared every step of my battle on Caring Bridge, something that helped me. I have yet to find the “new normal,” but all I know is that I carry on, one day at a time.
I had no symptoms, no genetic history and no obvious risk factors. Simply put, I am lucky to be alive. And on the hard days, that is what I have to come back to!
It’s hard to keep it to one piece of advice! If you’re already fighting, be to be your own best advocate! Do not just accept the first answers. Do not read just one source of information. Research, speak up and ask questions.
Most of all, know there is no “normal” during cancer and its treatment. Your experience won’t be the same as everything you are told or you read.