When I talk about life with cancer I feel like I’m talking about someone else… September 11, 2012 I woke from a colonoscopy to the news that a mass was in my colon so big the doctor couldn’t finish the procedure. I was shocked, scared and had no idea what would happen to me. A few weeks later I was on the cancer fast track. I had surgery to remove the tumor along with a foot of my colon, a portion of my small bowel, appendix, 18 lymph nodes and was then given an ileostomy (poop bag!) to allow my colon to heal. I was in bed for two months after surgery with horrible pain in my hip that I thought was sciatica until a MRI showed cancer had spread to my pelvic bone. Lung nodules that appeared in a previous CT scan also proved to be cancer making my official diagnosis stage IV colon cancer. Bummer.
Again, not what I was expecting but I was hopeful I could beat the odds.
I started an aggressive round of chemo in November 2012 that rocked my world. I had been losing weight prior to my diagnosis but after surgery and chemo my weight began to plummet. During all this my guy decided to propose. I was too sick to say no so I said yes. Kidding! He’s the best and I can’t imagine life without him. Our first year of marriage was pretty atypical. For one thing, I looked like a skeleton. In January 2013 I was hospitalized for “failure to thrive.” I weighed 75 pounds and couldn’t keep anything in me long enough to stick. I was fed intravenously for two weeks until I could eat on my own again. I ate what I could during the day then was fed at night through a feeding tube in my stomach.
May 10, 2013 I had my ileostomy taken down. Next to my wedding, this was the best day of my life. I could poop out of my butt again! I thought it would be second nature but it’s been a challenge and I still live with complications from that surgery. No matter how bad it gets though, I have to remind myself it could be worse. I’ve had various chemo treatments the past year and a half but without the adverse effects I experienced in the beginning. Other than low energy and hours spent in the bathroom, I live a pretty “normal” life. I hike or walk every day with my dog Hannah. I’ve been able to swim and do yoga that would’ve proven difficult if I still had a poop bag. My lung nodules have been growing (NO!) and there’s talk of starting a more aggressive treatment in the fall (NOOO!!!) but I can’t think about that now. I have today and that’s all that matters. I’m grateful to God for sending me angels in the form of my husband Jason, my family, friends and my dog Hannah. Without them life is not worth living. Thank you Dan Shurtz and the Sweatin’ for Sarah crew for making the world a better place. Thank you Sarah and Chanda for being incredibly strong women who taught us all the meaning of perseverance and grace. Thank you to my inspired doctors and nurses who do everything they can for my well-being. I look forward to sweatin’ for Sarah and everyone else fighting the Big C. See you there!