I have to do how much treatment?

Chemotherapy? I have to do chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and then chemotherapy again? What about school? What about my occupation? So I’m going to lose my hair? I really am this sick? WHAT ABOUT MY LIFE??? As I look back, all these questions just seem so selfish, so ignorant. At this point in my life, these questions were so irrelevant. I was fighting for my life, and I was worried about my hair? Seriously? Could the drama queen come out in me a little more??

On July 9th, 2014, at only 20 years old, I was just told I only had three months to live. Three months? I had only just begun life, only starting out on my own, how could it be taken away so quickly? At first, I walked out of the hospital telling them I would not do any treatment. This was not happening to me and I needed a second opinion. I wasn’t going to do something so dramatic without one more opinion. Give up my life, because a tumor decided to take over? Yes, the sassy young woman attitude was coming out STRONG. I wanted to be stubborn and continue my life as it was before. I mean I was only having symptoms every now and then, no way it was as bad as they were making it out to be. I was just so angry and hurt.

Over the next week I decided to seriously think about my options, and what my best actions would be. Still I was determined to not do treatment and just ride out this roller coaster. No doctor can put a timeline on my life, only my Heavenly Father could. After deep consideration, I decided to sit down with my immediate family and lets discuss the pros and cons of every aspect. As I laid out my case about how I would not like to do any treatment, just continue to live my life as I had been because I was not yet “that bad”. The points my family made changed my mind right around.

Mom: “How do you not you are O.K.? You have already been told you only have three months to live, who is to say that it will not get worse, you become terminal, and then there is no time to fix this disease.” Grandfather: “I have bladder cancer ¬†myself. I know it is one of the hardest fights. No, I have never done chemotherapy or radiation, but all 17 surgery I have gone through, I do it for my kids and grandkids every single time!” Little sister: “You are my big sister, what am I going to do without someone taking the blame for me, or someone to argue with, or that someone I look up to the most? I can’t lose you sissy, I just can’t…” My little sister is one of my biggest fans, has taken care of my like no other 12 year old should have to. I should be the one taken care of her and looking out for her, but through this trial, our places got switched. So therefore, her comments hit home. Needless to say, I was headed to my oncologists that next Monday.

It was decided on that I would do the pill version of chemotherapy (Xeloda) along with radiation for 25 days straight (excluding the weekends). Week One. I began the medicine, along with the radiation. Oh, how SICK I was. Extreme nausea would lead to eventually vomiting. As my radiation oncologist was an hour and a half away from my home town, that made a LONG ride being constantly sick. Week two. No better. At this point, I am having to force feed myself because I have no appetite. Cramps were constant along with a continuous back pain. During this time, the only thing that would help my body was a extremely hot bath with epson salt to soothe. Week three. Holy hydration, hello hospital. I was in and out of the hospital with liver failure, along with dehydration. Still no appetite, not able to keep food down. Time to lower the dosage on the chemotherapy. Week four, almost done! Thank goodness my skin has help on, but that is about the only thing going for me. No improvements. Time put a port-a-cath in just in case my body decides not to hold up these last two weeks and we have to take drastic cautions. Week five, we are at the finish line!! My body is almost completely give out, there is no way I can take anymore. Praise the Lord it is over!! But… what about that 35 pounds I instantly dropped in 2 weeks. That can’t be good; however, I am off of all treatments for six weeks. That is plenty of time to recover!!

Well that is until the next week when I arrived at my surgeon’s office to make sure the stitching was healed and functioning properly. However, we had one TEENY TINY problem…they weren’t able to find my PULSE!!! As I had continuously been sick, still losing weight, not able to eat anything, I just was not getting better. I was so sick this morning, I was on the verge of passing out. Thank goodness the emergency room was directly across the street; was an ambulance really necessary though???

The Beginning…

Have you ever felt like the world and time actually stopped for a split second? That moment was Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 for myself. For almost a year previously, I had numerous symptoms telling me something was not right with my body. Being only 19 years old at the time, full time student and employee, practicing my swimming laps every day as I was a competitive swimmer, I assumed I should feel as tired as I was. I was constantly staying as active as I could, some days a little too much. That summer I decided to come back home from college and just relax a little. Soon I realized the tiredness never went away. At this point I began to become worrisome.

In November of 2013, I received a phone call from my father saying he would like to see my sister and me just to have dinner and check in on us. However, I could sense some negativity in his voice. As he did not say that anything was wrong or anything of that nature, I blew the feeling off and was going to enjoy my time. The dinner was going great; we are all having a good time. That is until the conversation suddenly went intense. Blah, blah, blah, cancer, blah, blah. Cancer. That was the only word that I heard. He was so young, only 41, he should not be put in this type of situation. Should not have to be battling this awful disease. He was being diagnosed with colon cancer. As the normal teenage reaction, I immediately began my research.

Number one search that pulled up: colon cancer is the second deadliest of the various cancers, however it is the most preventable. Now wait a second, if it is so preventable then how in the world is the second leading cancer resulting in death? Well usually it isn’t until 50 when people are recommended to be checked. 50 years old… Does that not lead room for question being it is the second deadliest?? How is there much logic in that reasoning? As this finding made me very curious, it also frustrated me.

The next step for my father was to have surgery. During his surgery, they went ahead and put a port-a-cath in his chest because they figured chemotherapy would be necessary. Good news for my father, they were able to take out the entire tumor out, some of his colon and lymph nodes affected meaning no chemotherapy or radiation were necessary. April of 2014, my father was considered to be in remission. This was the best news!! That is until July of 2014 came around.

As I previously stated, I was beginning to have symptoms were I was extremely tired, occasional passing of blood clots, along with extreme cramps in my lower abdomen. One night while I was out, the cramps became so intense that I was not even able to stand up straight. I realized soon that I needed to use the restroom and found that I had passed massive blood clots. I knew then I could wait no longer, immediate attention was needed. Emergency room, here I come!! On July 7, 2014, I went through numerous scans to determine what the problem was. As I received a CT scan that night, my family asked them to specifically check my abdomen and pelvis being just a few months earlier my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer. As test results came back, I was informed that there were no signs of any tumors, or any affect lymph nodes. At this point, it was determined that it had to be some type of irritable bowel syndrome. I was admitted into the hospital for the next few days to continue testing along with a colonoscopy within the next two days.

July 9, 2014. That is the day that I will never forget. The day I knew exactly every aspect in my room, the way the clock ticking sounded, the look on my mother’s face, the worry in my grandfather’s eye, the rushing of nurses running around me. Even though I had no idea what was going on or what was to happen, I knew something was not right. Something had gone wrong, or the finding would not be good news at all. I remember hearing my grandfather say, “Can you tell her? Are you able? You have to be strong for her”. These few words are ones that no one is prepared to hear. Anticipation grew stronger as I was not sure I was even ready to hear them. Finally I gather myself, and simply asked the question that was running through my head, “what happened…?” Then the words I never wanted to hear….”You have colorectal cancer. It is aggressively growing and is already in stage IV. We have to act quick with treatment or you will not survive. I love you, everything will be O.K. We will fight this any way we need to. You will be just fine. Just hold on, it is going to be a long ride” -Mom