We all have special days or events that we remember and celebrate for years to come. I have those too…the day I met my husband, our wedding date, the day we bought our house, the day my son was born, etc.
We also have days that we wish we could forget, right? You know, those days that we wish could be erased from our memory because they never happened and we didn’t have to live with the consequences of them. Some of those days for me are September 11, 2001; December 31, 2009 – the day I miscarried our first baby; June 13, 2010 – the day I miscarried our second baby; and TODAY, March 5 (2012) – the day my “cancer journey” started.
In case you don’t know, I am a cancer patient, soon to be declared a cancer “survivor”. I will be 5 years cancer-free on March 27 (PRAISE GOD)! I can’t WAIT to celebrate! I have big plans for that day. I’m going to turn a scary date into a celebratory date. (I’ll post more on that later).
People often ask me how I found my cancer. My answer…GOD! You see, I have NO family history of cancer on EITHER side of my family. I was 28 when I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. The doctors believe I “got” cancer when I was 18! I seemed healthy: I ate well, drank lots of water, exercised regularly, etc.
So, how did I know? Well, I didn’t. 5 years ago today, March 5, was the first doctor’s visit and testing I had done that revealed my cancer. It was a Monday. I had a stomach ache, but that was nothing unusual. My stomach had always hurt at some point during the day for years.
But this one was different. It started as a little annoyance in January, got worse through February, and had now gotten to the point where I was doubled over in pain. I KNEW something was wrong, but I didn’t know what. I figured it was my appendix, so I packed up my 7-month old son and drove an hour to the “good” hospital ER. After a botched CT scan, they told me my appendix looked fine, but they wanted to admit me overnight to monitor me. So, my husband and mother-in-law took my baby home and I stayed in the hospital.
I knew something was wrong, but none of the tests were showing anything. After eating dinner at the hospital, I experienced excruciating pain in my abdomen. The doctor/nurses gave me pain meds but had no explanation as to why I would be in pain. This was the first meal I had eaten that day, so nothing made sense.
The next morning, I was released and sent home with instructions to follow up with my family doctor. So, I did. He told me to take milk of magnesia every night because maybe I was constipated. WHAT?!?! I pooped every day, sometimes multiple times a day! How could I be constipated?!
Two days/nights later, the pain was unbearable again. I called a lady from church to come watch my son (he was sleeping) and my husband drove me back to the ER. After a true CT scan and two ultrasounds (1 internal, 1 external), they told me there was a mass in my colon, most likely poop, so to go home and follow up with my family doctor. I got NO relief. I tried explaining what I pooped every day so I could be constipated.
So, off to my family doctor I went that next morning. He read the reports from the ER and didn’t know what to do. So, he put me on a clear liquid diet for 2 weeks with the instructions to take milk of magnesia every day. He said to come back in a week if I was still having trouble.
Talk about torture! Clear liquid diet means just that…clear liquids: juice, jello, broth, water. No milk, pudding, ice cream – that would be “liquid” or “soft” diet.My husband actually called the doctor at one point to say this was crazy and I could not survive on clear liquids. I was miserable, not to mention grouchy and still in pain!
Guess what? I was back in a week! So, he referred me to a local surgeon for a colonoscopy.
Now, I had had a colonoscopy in 2008 before we got married. That GI specialist had not been able to get to the end of my colon because it was “redundant”. He had told me I had IBS and to just manage my symptoms, which is what I had done for 4 years.
So, when my family doctor referred me for a colonoscopy, I knew what to expect and I dreaded it.