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Derrick Hardy

Patients & Survivors Stage IV Colon Cancer Arkansas
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Story: "My name is Derrick. I am 29 years old and I live in Greenbrier, Arkansas with my wife Ashley. We have two daughters Sophia, age 4, Maddison, age 5, and a son Mason, age 3. I learned of FAP from a Red Cross letter while I was in Iraq serving as a lead gunner for convoy security with the Arkansas National Guard. I learned at that time that both my mother and oldest sister were battling stage III and stage IV cancer from FAP. Once I returned home from Baghdad, Iraq I was told I had to get tested.

"In 2008 at age 22, I underwent my first upper and lower GI scope at John L McClellan VA hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. The scope showed that I had hundreds of thousands of pre-cancerous polyps in my colon and rectum, so many that it was not possible to cut or burn them; my chance of developing cancer was at an all-time high. At that time, I was told the best option for me was to undergo a surgery that involved having my complete colon and rectum removed and to get an ileostomy bag. It took some time to have that news sink in because I was told I could have this major surgery or have cancer; I made the choice of surgery for my family.

"My surgery was completed on November 29th, 2010. I spent many days in the hospital having my procedure and many days of recovery. As I woke up from the operation, I looked around and saw a large surgical site that ran from above my belly button all the way down to my bottom with tubes and drains fed into me. I thought of how my life as I once knew of it had changed forever.

"After that surgery and on the road to recovery came a new fight that I had to get past. Every year for the rest of my life, I would still have to have upper GI scopes, blood and lab work, MRIs, CT scans, and ultrasounds done to check for issues that came from having FAP. I had to adjust to my new life, just like the rest of my family had to. My FAP surgery also came with getting used to the outsiders that would look at me and wonder what was wrong with me.

"All I could feel was another obstacle of saying to myself, 'How would I ever go swimming again or go out in public and not be looked at funny?'

"I questioned how I had come from a war zone in which I had been able to do anything and everything; to being put on restrictions which slapped me in the face with what I could do in my 'new life.' As time moved on, we lost my oldest sister in 2013 to FAP at age 35. Then we lost our mother in 2014 to FAP at age 59. Then our baby sister in 2015 at age 27. There are only three of us left, one brother and one sister. Also, seven of our children from my brothers, sisters, and I have FAP.

"I had started to look up and finally get used to having this problem and even started to not care what others thought about me. I began to go swimming again without a shirt and honestly things got better, that is until August 2015. I went in for another routine upper GI scope and found out that scope had shown there were polyps - not just the ones in my stomach that were normal and being watched, but now they had found a polyp with possible low-grade adenomas tissue in the 2nd portion of the duodenum.

"My doctors told me that we needed to wait 3 months, I had another scope on the same area that showed a polyp. On December 17, 2015, I had a scope to target that area, and days later we learned that there were 5 or more polyps in the 2nd portion of the duodenum. The doctor said we need to do yet another test to see what was going on because there was such a dramatic change that it was hard to believe. I was completely blind-sided that I may be facing cancer. On January 11, 2016, we sat down with another GI to learn that this team can't handle my issues. We are now waiting on more tests and second opinions. We know are facing a scary situation with duodenal polyps. My story continues..."

Advice: "One person can hold their head high no matter how bad life gets and keep moving forward to show a million others that no matter what you were given, you can make the best out of life no matter how much time you have left. Never Give Up."

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