A few weeks after I graduated high school I found myself at Johns Hopkins having my first colonoscopy. As luck would have it, not only did I have F.A.P, but my colon was so overrun with polyps that it was deemed unsalvageable, and in turn I would need a total colectomy.
The date of September 4th, 1996 will be forever etched in my mind, not just because it was the date that I had surgery to have my colon removed, but it was also the date I was diagnosed with cancer. Upon coming to in my hospital bed, I can remember opening my eyes to a crowded hospital room filled with my parents, my surgeon, and a bunch of other white coats. Still groggy, I was unsure what to make of the situation, but I would soon find out.
My surgeon informed me that during the operation he found an apple sized tumor in my rectum, and I was given the diagnosis of stage III colorectal cancer. My surgeon went on to tell me that my diagnosis carried only a forty percent survival rate, and used the following metaphor to describe my situation, “Kris, this is game seven, and I need you to fight.” I was barely eighteen years of age. Now, eighteen years later, I am blessed to call myself a survivor, instead of being referred to as a statistic, but unfortunately that’s not where my story ends.
As I look back on my cancer diagnosis, and everything that it entailed, e.g. chemo and radiation therapies, hospital stays for dehydration etc. I have to say that I would do it all again if it would mean not having F.A.P. With cancer I had a straight forward diagnosis, and a specific means to treat that diagnosis, not so much with F.A.P. Case and point: On January 16th, 2014, I had a surgery called the “Whipple Procedure,” because I had “hundreds” of polyps in my duodenum, and here I sit, almost a year later dealing with the aftermath of a longer than normal recovery period due to yet another surgery because of a disease that continues to affect my life, F.A.P.
I hate to end this on such a negative note, so in parting I would like to leave you with my two cents; Life is hard enough as it is even with a clean bill of health, so lets bask in the light of the positives that life has to offer, and not ruminate it’s negatives. Lets smile bigger, laugh louder, and hug tighter, for it’s not our afflictions that define us, but how we choose to deal with them.