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Dolores Callahan

Patients & Survivors Stage IV Rectal Cancer New Jersey
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Dolores' story

I began having issues with constipation, which was unusual for me, and then I had unexplained weight loss.

I went for colonoscopy in August 2020, and I was diagnosed with colon/rectal cancer, not knowing what stage yet, only that the mass was 5 to 7 centimeters.

After CAT scan and biopsy, it did spread to my lung, so I was now stage IV.

I found my team of doctors through research and tried to educate myself as best I could. I began chemotherapy in September had five rounds, then I went on to 30 radiation treatments.

I hit bump in January 2021, when I developed a blockage and had emergency surgery and colostomy bag was put in.

I had my colon surgery in March 2021, and colostomy closed, and given an ileostomy placed to be reversed after colon healed.

In May 2021, I had lung surgery to remove bottom portion of right lung.

In July 2021, I thankfully had the ileostomy removed. I was recovering very well but then developed hernia and scar tissue in stomach and had it removed September 2021. I also was declared NED at this time.

Unfortunately cancer came back in the same area of my lung, so I had surgery again to remove in March 2022. I have remained out the hospital since then and last scans and colonoscopy came back good, so I am NED but staying vigilant with blood work and scans.

I also have the Guardant blood test done every four months, which are coming back negative.

I won’t lie: It was a lot to go through, and I pray every day no one else has to. But I would do it again. I will always fight to live.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms included ongoing change in bowel habits, unexplained/sudden weight loss, unable to have a bowel movement (bowel obstruction) or constipation.

Side effects

Side effects included fatigue, bowel irregularities, chemo-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV), and neuropathy.

Dolores' advice

Please, please, do not wait [to be screened]. You could be saving your life. The earlier the detection the better!

Do not be afraid of screening tests. Believe the treatment is worse. This is only a chapter in your life, and only part of your story: not the end.

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