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Emily Toney

Caregivers Massachusetts

Emily Toney's Story

My husband was diagnosed in January 2022. He had been having changes in bowel habits and asked for a colonoscopy for months before his doctor finally did a FOBT and then a colonoscopy. They told him he had IBS or food sensitivities. The day of the colonoscopy, I remember waiting for him and being worried, but I was also thinking to myself, “As soon as he comes out and they say everything is fine, I’ll think about how silly I was to even worry."

Unfortunately, everything wasn’t fine, and I wasn’t silly to worry. I had to wait outside in my car during the procedure but went into the office to get him once he was awake and recovering. When I got inside, the nurse offered me apple juice. I should have realized right then and there that something was wrong, she offered me a drink!

The doctor finally came in and said he found the reason for the changes in bowel movements and told us there was a tumor in my husband's colon and it was most definitely cancer. The minutes after that seemed like hours, and I just remember thinking that life would never be the same.

The doctor said, “It looks like it’s treatable. It’s not the worst I’ve seen, but it’s also not the best." We got biopsy results the next day that confirmed it was cancer, then met with a team of surgeons and oncologists the following week after more scans. They told us he had stage III colorectal cancer, his tumor was at the bottom of his sigmoid colon going down into the start of his rectum.

In the past almost year, Josh has had months of radiation and chemo combined, then just chemo for eight rounds, then surgery with a temporary ileostomy bag. We are awaiting a reversal surgery in the next few months and hopefully on the way to recovery. We have three young children, so it’s been challenging to explain to them and for them to understand. Although it’ll never truly be over, we are hopeful that we can get back to some normalcy soon.

Emily Toney's Advice

It is very scary to face the reality that this is a possibility. Because of my husband's experience, I spoke with my family and just had my first colonoscopy. My dad has had a polyp in the past, and I didn’t want to take any chances.

"Knowledge is power and knowing means you can do something about it before it’s too late."

I encourage everyone to get a colonoscopy if they are concerned about age for screening or have a family history. Find out about your family history of colorectal cancer and even of polyps. My colonoscopy was very easy and painless! I was terrified beforehand, and now I’m so glad I got screened!

"The only way out is through." I repeat that to myself when things are really hard and scary.

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