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Esteban Garcia

Patients & Survivors Stage III
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Esteban's Story

Throughout my life, I’ve lived an active and healthy lifestyle. I have diligently had my yearly physical since when I was at least 35. 

In summer 2021, I noticed some blood when I would go to the bathroom, nothing major, and it was not a constant thing, so at first I just brushed it off. 

I had a physical exam coming up, so I figured I’d wait for that to speak with my doctor. Coincidentally, in early September, a few days after Labor Day, my stepfather was rushed to the hospital and was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. By the time I had my physical, I had had sporadic symptoms for around two months. My doctor threw out a few things as potential reasons for it, but wasn’t too concerned. 

I was about to turn 45, and since the new recommendation was that people should be screened at 45, and with my insistence based on what I saw with my stepfather, my doctor referred me to a gastroenterologist. It took almost three months to finally see the specialist, really no medical person was concerned since my symptoms were not severe or screaming “cancer.”  I had my appointment in early December – and again, nothing concerning – maybe hemorrhoids? My weight was stable, My appetite was fine. I had lost around 8 pounds in the past six months, but I was also exercising more and eating better (looking back, that was a clear symptom that was missed).

I was able to finally get my appointment for a colonoscopy for early January. I remember waking up from the procedure with the doctor to my right and my wife to my left. I vaguely remember him telling me that he found a tumor and that it was 4 cm in diameter.

He immediately scheduled a CAT scan, and we were able to get it done three hours later. It is all a little fuzzy, between the shock and sedatives. It was a confusing afternoon. After the CAT scan, came the surgery about two weeks later. Surgery was successful, and they were able to remove the entire tumor. I was diagnosed with stage III cancer since some of my lymph nodes were affected. We caught it in time, but at the same time, much later than we would’ve liked. So then came the chemo treatment for four months.  After four cycles, I was officially declared in remission at the end of May.

Esteban's Advice

It’s now been a year, and what helped me the most was having my family with me, a positive attitude, and knowing that I will continue living my life. Although cancer will be part of my life, it will not define me.

I keep looking ahead and continue dreaming and continue setting goals. I am aware of my check-ups, and I’m aware of all the things that I will have to do over the next five years and beyond, but I also know that there’s a big world out there, and I have a lot of time in this world to do so much.

My family has been amazing, and they absolutely help me and support me in every step of the way. I now play tennis three or four times a week, and I even played tennis when my body allowed me to during my treatment. That helped me take my mind away from everything to do with cancer.

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