I was 39 years old when I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. I was in disbelief as many people are when something like this suddenly interrupts life. I thought life was over for me. Not only because of the cancer, but also because of the aftermath of the surgery. Being a single woman and hoping to one day meet “Mr. Right” now seemed impossible. To save my life, I had to get a colostomy. One that is not reversible. I now have a bag hanging from my belly forever. How could a man accept this, I wondered. Even more important…how could I? Now, ten years later, I’m happier than ever!
Of course, the second I was diagnosed I was scared and wondered if I was going to die. I thought my nerves alone would get me long before the cancer did. It took time for me to understand that my attitude meant everything. Honestly, getting connected spiritually and talking to others helped me through the worst of it. Reading about my situation and talking to others that have been through it was a tremendous help. Finding others who know what you’re going through is so important for your healing process.
Although cancer itself is very common in my family, I was the first to have colon cancer. While I was fighting my battle, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was given three months to live and died only two weeks after his diagnosis; eight months after mine. As I fought for my life and watched as my father lost his, the dreadful disease even took the life of my beloved dog.
For me, cancer ultimately turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It changed who I am. My ultimate goal now is to be a support for someone else. I found that ‘worry’ changes nothing. I want to share that message. I have learned that taking control can change the healing process.
There is wisdom to be found while fighting for your life. I don’t think I can offer ‘words of wisdom’ because for me, wisdom comes not from words, but from experience. I also believe that experience is one of God’s favorite ways of communicating with us. Experiencing cancer will change you. How it changes you is a choice. The cancer itself may not be a choice but our reaction to it is. Understand how incredibly strong you are to go through this. You are going to find strength in you that you never knew was there. The second you’re diagnosed, you are a survivor. YOU ARE A SURVIVOR! Wisdom comes from experience, knowledge comes from a book. Read about your illness, learn about your illness. Gain knowledge and wisdom from this, and then…help another cancer patient. Nothing will make you feel better faster!
I feel so strongly about what colon cancer did for me (not to me) that I wrote a memoir. ‘Where the Sun Don’t Shine’ is written to encourage others going through the same thing.
I love the phrase ‘Get Your Rear in Gear’! To me it means ‘Get off your butt and get screened’. Fantastic campaign and proud to be a part of it.
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