My FLAG story begins innocently enough, as I had no clue that anything was wrong. I knew I was losing some weight but attributed that to the fact that I was finally off the hormones that I’d been taking for over 10 years. Also, I didn’t have any other of the symptoms of colon cancer.
On May 11, 2015, I went in for a routine colonoscopy. I’d had them before, so I pretty much knew what to expect as far as what they would be doing, how long I’d be out, etc. This time, however, was NOT routine. When I awoke from the procedure, I looked at the clock and immediately realized something had gone wrong.
During the consultation, the doctor explained that she’d removed a couple polyps (normal enough) but had also found a mass that she couldn’t remove and showed me pictures of what she suspected might be cancer. The tears fell. My husband was speechless. After biopsies, blood tests and a CAT scan, all the results came back benign.
On May 22nd, I had surgery to remove the affected section of my colon, along with some surrounding lymph nodes. I was lucky that the surgeon was able to do the surgery laparoscopically, versus having to cut me open. A few days later, I get a call from the surgeon’s office asking me to come in so they could discuss the pathology reports, etc. I said that, by telling me I needed to come in, they pretty much told me that I have cancer. Otherwise, they’d have told me everything was fine. I had stage 3B colon cancer, which meant it had moved to the lymph nodes. The only thing that kept it from advancing to stage 4 was that it hadn’t broken through the colon wall.
On June 3rd, I was back to work, knowing that I was facing chemo treatments, but I hadn’t yet talked to an oncologist. June 15th, the port was inserted. June 16th, I received my first found of chemo, which consisted of sitting in the chair for 4-5 hours with an IV drip, then having to carry a fanny-pack chemo pump for 2 days.
After the first couple of treatments, I started having unbearable pain in my left shoulder, which turned out to be a blood clot due to the port. That port was immediately removed, and I had to take blood thinners for a month or so. During that time, I was on a “limited” chemo regimen, meaning I didn’t have to do the fanny pack thing. A second port was eventually inserted on the right side, and I began the rest of my chemo therapy.
Fast forward through all the treatments, during which time my long hair started to fall out. I had my daughter cut it off, though I didn’t go totally bald. I suffered through several side effects, the worst being neuropathy in my hands and feet and being sick and weak. I was also missing work, missing spending time with family and friends, etc.
My last chemo treatment was December 15th. Through all this, I had the awesome support of my husband, daughter and son-in-law and the rest of my family, friends and co-workers. YAY ME!!! Today, I feel wonderful!!! The side effects eventually went away, except for the neuropathy, which is more of a nuisance in my feet. They feel like I’ve been standing all day in high heels. My hair is back, though I now keep it short because it’s so much easier to take care of. I’ve gained a little more weight than I’d like, but I’ll take it over the alternative. I had a colonoscopy not too long ago, and everything looked great! I still have to have blood tests and see my oncologist every 4 months. He says I’m doing good, but what I really want to hear him say is he doesn’t need to see me anymore.
That’s my story. Thank you to everyone in the FLAG Club for taking a few minutes out of your day to read my story. Keep fighting!!!
This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.