10 months and 10 days ago i woke up from a colonoscopy and was told i had a very large mass that was for sure cancer. Later that day i found out that it had spread to my lymph nodes (stage 3c) but not any other organs. The next day i learned that i would be doing radiation/chemo, then having surgery, and then would undergo 6 months of chemotherapy.Like many other people my age (and younger) cancer was not on my radar, especially colorectal cancer, or what i lovingly like to call it, “old man butt cancer.” Sure, i was having blood in my stool but i was stressed out, so i rationalized that it was normal….for 2.5 years. By the way, blood in your stool is NEVER normal.
I was in complete shock with this new diagnosis and knew that the next year would be a challenge as i would undergo lifesaving treatments. This cancer gave me new tattoos (for radiation), multiple scars from my two surgeries (ileostomy and then the reversal), a port (which will be coming out ASAP), and months of chemo induced side effects, not limited to but including diarrhea, fatigue, neuropathy, sloughing of the skin on my feet and bleeding oral ulcers. And let’s not forget the overwhelming anxiety of how this terrible disease changed my life so quickly.
Today however, i am blessed to say that i have completed my treatment. I had my 8th, and final, round of iv chemotherapy, and after today, i will be on oral chemotherapy for two weeks, and then i am DONE. Of course my final chemotherapy has to be in the midst of a global pandemic, which just demonstrates that my life is (and always will be) a little complicated. I mean, my ileostomy surgery was the day before a hurricane hit Charleston, so i feel this is just par for the course.
These past months have changed my whole life and who i am as a person. It has humbled me, it has strengthened my relationship with God, it has shown me that i am resilient, it has shown me that i am loved, and i have gained a viewpoint on life that i am not sure i would have had otherwise. Because of cancer, i am a better physician, wife, daughter, mother and friend. I have been blessed to have the most supportive husband, daughter, parents, siblings, and coworkers that anyone could ask for. I have also made friends via social media who are going through this same situation and i know that i would not have made it without them.You never think these kinds of thing will happen to you. We are all so focused on the future and what is ahead that we do not take time to really live in the moment. I have learned that we are not promised tomorrow and that we should live a life that we are proud of everyday, like it is your last (except for right now in the pandemic, please listen to the CDC guidelines and our government officials).
Thank you for supporting my journey. I will continue to annoy everyone on social media with my #orangetheory and #peloton workout updates as well as pictures of my pets, all the meanwhile trying to educate the masses about colorectal cancer, its symptoms and prevention. With that being said, love you all and get your butts checked!