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Bryan Wenger

Patients & Survivors Stage III Rectal Cancer Kansas
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Bryan's story

Lynch syndrome got the best of me. At 26, I was diagnosed as stage IIIb.

On April 29, 2009, I went for a colonoscopy. The doctor couldn't complete the colonoscopy due to the tumor size and location. I wear a colostomy with pride. I am currently fighting prostate cancer, at 40 years old.

I made it to 40, at one point I never thought I would. It brings tears to my eyes typing this out.

It has been a long 14 years but absolutely worth it. My grandfather passed away at my age from colorectal cancer. My uncle has had colorectal cancer twice and has an ileostomy. My great aunt has had colorectal cancer twice.

Symptoms

Symptoms included rectal bleeding or blood in stool, and narrow stools.

Side effects

Side effects included fatigue, pain, neuropathy, distress or mental health issues/illness.

Bryan's advice

It is a lot easier to get screened than it is to battle cancer of any stage. The majority of the battle is mental. The physical anguish drives the mental aspect of it all. 

You can be physically tough; you can be the strongest man or woman on the planet, but I guarantee you this, hearing the words "you have cancer" will put you back in your seat. The first thoughts that cross your mind are "I am going to die. What will my family do without me? Will they be ok? Will my wife be able to move on? Will my kids ever be OK without their parent? Will I walk my daughter down the aisle? Who will teach my son to be the man he should be?"

I unfortunately was not able to have children due to radiation; however, to this day I still worry about my wife losing me, not for the fear of death, but the fear of hurting her so much. I can handle the physical pain. I do every day, between my colostomy, my supra pubic catheter, neuropathy, leg pain from muscle relocation, bone pain, etc.

I cannot handle knowing that I will cause my wife pain whenever this fight comes to an end.

The second worst part is when the "what ifs" start to come to mind, "What if I got checked?" or "What if I didn't ignore that blood?" These thoughts start to flood your mind. They don't seem to stop, ever. Almost 15 years later, I still ask myself why didn't I go get checked out the first time I saw blood. Why I didn’t get my genetics tested at 18. The decisions we make today do affect our future, not sure how, but they do.

The mental hardship is tough. You can ignore it: I did a real good job of that, but then I ended up with medically induced PTSD as I was told “You have cancer” the second time. Thoughts and feelings flood your mind immediately, is this go-round going to mimic the first one?

This part is a lot harder than chemo or radiation ever was on me. 

Don't be afraid to go get checked. It can save your life! 

If you ever need someone to talk to, don't be afraid to seek out someone.

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