In July and August of 2014, I was experiencing severe back pain and intestinal discomfort. The pain in my back became so severe over Labor Day weekend that I couldn’t walk, and I had my mom take me to the emergency room. I was admitted with a broken back due to an undiagnosed tumor.
After multiple tests and scans, I was diagnosed with metastasized stage IV colon cancer. The next few days were a blur of nurses, doctors, and specialists. I ended up being in the hospital for two weeks. In that time, I had multiple tests and scans, a procedure to remove the tumor from my spine and reconstruct my spine with a cement-like substance, and a colostomy surgery to remove the cancerous part of my colon. I spent the next few days getting used to my colostomy bag and learning to manage my medications on my own. After I showed I could manage both on my own, I was able to go home.
The diagnosis was devastating. I had twin three-year-old girls at home. It was hard for me to take care of them and be involved in their day-to-day life. I was struggling to balance the amount of rest, help and medication I needed with being present in our family.
Once home, I started outpatient radiation on the tumor in my sternum and back. I went into MSTI (Mountain State Tumor Institute) every day for two weeks to receive radiation. I started chemotherapy the week I finished radiation. I began having severe pain in my hip, and a fresh scan identified a tumor in my left hip. The doctors decided that I needed to start radiation immediately and continue with chemo. I started fifteen days of radiation, along with my chemo that was taking place every other week. I finished radiation on my 30th birthday. I started to feel better physically.
It was during these first few weeks of radiation that I decided I would not let cancer beat me. I found inspiration in the stories of survivors. If they could do it, so could I. On one Facebook post I had made during my second round of chemo, a friend of our family posted his survivor story in the comment section. It completely changed my way of thinking. I would beat this disease. With help from my mom, I started visualizing my chemo treatments as vikings attacking the cancer cells. I found the Fight Like a Girl Facebook page, and the survivor stories there made my fight seem even more possible.
In December, I was scheduled for my first set of scans to check the progress of my treatment. I went in on Friday for the scans and got my results back on the following Wednesday. It was good news! My doctor told me that all of my tumors had shrunk significantly, and my bones were healing. The plan was that I would continue on with chemo for the next 6 months.
Last Monday (March 9th) after completing my ninth round of chemo, I went in for my second set of scans. When I went in to meet the doctor on Wednesday, I heard the word I’d spent so much time visualizing: remission!! I didn’t have to continue on with my chemo treatment for the week. I’m heading to Hawaii in a week. It will be a perfect celebration!
I know there is a chance that there will be a recurrence, and I will have labs every six weeks for a while to make sure that the cancer is staying away. But for today, I am working on living in this moment and being grateful for this time with my family.
The informational content of this article 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.
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.