May 11, 2011. I was 40 years old and undergoing my first Colonoscopy. I had given birth to my daughter in June 2008, and was planning birthday parties for my son who would be turning 10 and my daughter who would be turning 3, a cancer diagnosis was the last thing I was expecting! I was a young mom and cancer just couldn’t happen to me!
My issues began many months prior to this date. I began occasionally seeing what looked like streaks of blood in my stools. I thought that is weird, oh well and wouldn’t think about it again until the next time it occurred. Finally I started to become concerned and mentioned the issues to my husband; he told me what I already knew… THAT IS NOT NORMAL! Upon his insistence I called a local GI practice and scheduled an appointment to discuss the issues I had been having.
During my visit, my Gastroenterologist told me to increase my fiber intake and he felt pretty certain since I was a young mother of two that it was most likely hemorrhoids and that he was almost 100% sure that I didn’t have Colon Cancer, but “to err on the side of caution, let’s schedule a colonoscopy”.
There I was… being wheeled into the procedure room, not knowing that 20-30 minutes later my life would change forever! My GI Dr. met with my husband and I after the procedure. His first words (now remember I am still a little loopy from the anesthesia) “I think you have Colon Cancer”!!! I found a polyp which has grown into your intestinal wall, I tried to cut it out but wasn’t able to remove all of it because it had already started to imbed. He then told us that he would send the portion he was able to remove off to be biopsied and would be in touch as soon as he had the results. Two days later, Friday May 13, 2011, I received the dreaded phone call from my doctor. All I heard was “it is cancer”.
The next month was a whirlwind of emotion, CT scan, ultrasound, meeting with my wonderful colorectal surgeon and of course scheduling the surgery itself. June 30, 2011 was the day… I wound up having a little over 12 inches of my colon removed during the resection procedure. 22 lymph nodes were removed for biopsy, all of which were negative for any cancer! I did it… I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Colorectal cancer at 40 and SURVIVED!!
Once you are diagnosed with Cancer your entire life changes, the fear of will it come back will be with you every day for the rest of your life. Cancer didn’t take me, but it did ruin my marriage of 21 years to my college sweetheart.
I am now raising two wonderful children (12 year old son and a 5 year old daughter) alone and trying to spread the word that Colon Cancer can happen to young people and to always trust your instincts and be your own advocate.
I don’t know that by sharing my story I will help save another life!! I do know that by sharing my story, my children will have their first colonoscopies at an early age so that they will hopefully never have to deal with a cancer diagnosis.