On March 18th, 2013, I heard the three words everyone dreads. You have cancer. At the time I was a reasonably healthy, active 31 year old with a wife and two young boys.
This diagnosis, which by the end of the week was confirmed to be stage IV colon cancer, came as a complete shock. I knew there was a family history of colon cancer and precancerous polyps on my father’s side so I was fully prepared to go in for my first colonoscopy at age 40 but not at 31.
For about a month to six weeks leading up to my diagnosis, I had been dealing with terrible night sweats. I would wake up drenched, have to change my clothes and lay down a towel to try to go back to sleep. I was also very fatigued, often going to bed when my 10-month old son and three year old son would go to sleep. I was diagnosed with a sinus infection about three weeks before my cancer diagnosis but when the course of antibiotics was through, I still was fatigued and experiencing night sweats.
On March 17th, 2013 I ended up at the urgent care for abdominal pain on my upper right side. The chest x-ray and blood work all came back normal but my primary doctor was contacted and requested to see me the next morning. At that appointment the doctor could feel the mass in my colon and ordered a CT scan. The scan showed tumors in my colon, lymph nodes, liver and lungs. I had the unfortunate task of breaking this news to my dad on his birthday and telling my family and friends was almost harder than processing what this meant for me.
Since the diagnosis I have had surgery to have the mass in my colon removed, along with 55 lymph nodes, 17 were cancerous. I started my first chemo regimen, Xeloda, Oxaliplatin and Avastin on May 1st, 2013 and completed 9 rounds until the neuropathy got too bad and then I stayed on Xeloda for three rounds. I have since done eight rounds of FOLFIRI and currently do chemo every other week. I am able to work full time and I make the most of my “good days”.
I take this one-day at a time and have no plans to give up. I have way too many memories to make with my sons and my family to give up.