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Mary Doherty

Caregivers Stage IV Colon Cancer New Jersey
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Mary's Story

My husband, John, was diagnosed with stage IV on his first colonoscopy that he had put off. It was his primary doctor that had been pushing for him to get one. John had no symptoms and was never sick. We have five kids and our lives were super busy, so he put it off. I did, too.

They found a cancerous polyp on his right side during his first colonoscopy. We later found out through scans that it had already metastasized to his spine, liver, lungs, and various other places. He never had a symptom. Had he gone at 50, I truly believe that it would have been a polyp that could have been removed. After a three-year fight, he passed away.

He became paralyzed, and the kids, and I took care of him on hospice for the last month at home. One thing I would tell others is to get scanned. It would have saved his life, and he would still be here for his son’s wedding which was just last week, for his grandchildren, one on the way. We miss him every second of every day. I would also tell everyone to get palliative care on board early on. I was scared of doing that because I was worried that I was giving up. The amount of spinal pain John was in was horrible.

We did manage to get a wonderful palliative care doctor, but it would have helped us to have him on board with all the other amazing docs that took care of John. You need a team of docs to help, dermatologists, pain management, palliative care. You need to have them with you from the start. I would tell anyone to make sure you have all those resources lined up from the beginning. Don’t let the idea of having them on board scare you like it did me. You have to accept the moment and the diagnosis. It doesn’t matter whether you want it or not. It’s key to accept it and start working toward pushing back on the cancer that is growing.

John was an amazing husband and Dad. He was so brave during everything. He set his mind that he was going to do everything in his power to have more time with us. He honestly hoped to live until science and medicine caught up with his disease. He was always looking for clinical trials. We were lucky to have an oncologist that let us ask all types of questions and bring our research to him. He wanted us to be advocates for John. That made such a difference. Two of my children have already had colonoscopies, and they all know how important it is to get one early now since their dad had colon cancer.

John would always say, "Why didn’t I just make time for the colonoscopy?" It doesn’t matter that you don’t have symptoms. John was super healthy, and then he wasn’t; he had stage IV colon cancer. He isn’t here with us, and he might have been if he had gotten a colonoscopy at 50. He is missed every day.

Mary's Advice

"Do it. It will save your life!"

-Mary Doherty

Every day, I would feel so overwhelmed, and John would say, “Let’s just do today.” Best piece of advice, you can’t go out too far. None of us can. We only can do today.

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