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Rebecca Taylor

Patients & Survivors Stage III Colon Cancer South Carolina
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Rebecca's story

I was 47 (2021) when I started having abdominal pain. This was my ONLY symptom. At first, my doctors thought it might be related to my period, and it was suggested I might need a hysterectomy.

Fast forward several months, the pain became more severe, I went back to doctor who suggested it sounded like my gallbladder. I was sent for an ultrasound and to see a surgeon who confirmed I needed to have my gallbladder removed.

After surgery, the pain continued. The surgeon suggested I might be constipated and to take laxatives. Then if not better in five days to call him as it could be related to a missed gallstone that could have made its way to the main bile duct. I was told that if I developed a fever or started throwing up to go to the ER. Two days later, after no relief from laxatives, I started throwing up.

I went to the ER (Jan. 2022) expecting another surgery related to my gallbladder. Within an hour they had completed a CT scan and came into the room where my husband and I were waiting to tell us that I had colon cancer. The tumor in my colon was causing a complete bowel obstruction, hence the pain I had been having. I would need to be admitted for emergency surgery.

Two days later during surgery, the tumor and nine inches of my transverse-colon were removed, as were 35 lymph nodes. The tumor itself had grown into the outer layers of my colon and three of the 35 lymph nodes.

My official diagnosis was stage IIIb colon cancer.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms included stomach cramps/bloating/fullness.

Side effects

Side effects included fatigue, bowel irregularities, neuropathy, and chemo brain.

Rebecca's advice

Do not hesitate to talk to your doctor and asked to be screened. It can save your life and is far better than having to endure surgery and treatments needed if you have advanced stage cancer.

Doctors talk about poop regularly and screenings and even the prep for these screenings now are so easy and painless. For one of my colonoscopies I only had to drink Gatorade that had MiraLAX®  added to it. There was no change in the taste of the Gatorade, and it was a very easy, pain-free prep. It really couldn't have been easier.

Most importantly, don't ignore symptoms or try to make sense of them and convince yourself it's related to something else. When in doubt, talk to your doctor and ask for a scan, even if you think you are too young. More and more younger people in their 40s, 30s and even 20s are being diagnosed each year.

Be proactive and ask to be tested.

One of the nurses told me during treatment I would look back and see treatment as a blip on the screen. I couldn’t see that at the time, but the farther out from treatment I become, the easier it is to see. I have always liked the quote, “It always seems impossible until it is done.” That has served as a good reminder for me during my fight.

During my fight, I have also had to learn how to distance myself from the fear and isolation that can come from a cancer diagnosis. I have had to rely on my faith, my family, and my friends, in a way I never knew was possible.

Some days are easier than others, but I am living for today, for each sweet moment I have with the people I cherish most. I have hope in my heart and I know that whatever comes next, I am OK.

It also helped me to find blessings in the midst of the chaos. Things that would help remind me I was not alone. Often the smallest of moments and gestures were the ones I’d hang onto the tightest, the ones that have helped me through the toughest of times. For me that meant slowing down and actively looking for those small joys I could carry with me on my journey.

I do believe God has provided me with this opportunity, to find the blessings in the midst of the storm, to understand and feel the gift of hope, a love for life, and serving Him through it.

Hope has truly lit a fire that is burning so bright that it has pulled me through the darkest days I have known. I am blessed and so very thankful and humbled by these gifts and beyond grateful that my time here is not yet over. But also grateful for the peace of knowing that when it is, I will be ready to spend eternity in His heavenly kingdom above. I found this all through cancer and for me that has made my journey worth it.

For now, I plan on making the most out of each new day I get to walk on this earth. And for each person who reads these words, my hope is that that these words will touch them in some unexpected way that helps gives them strength and a hope that can help carry them through their own journey with this awful disease.

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