A Surprising Colon Cancer

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A Surprising Colon Cancer

From diagnosis to treatment, a fighting tale

An Unexpected Challenge
Wed., Dec. 7, 2005

At the time, I had no idea anything at all was wrong. I just knew it was time for a colonoscopy. In fact it was past time, since I was 61 years old.

I don't remember the procedure itself. What I do remember is waking up at home and Kim, my husband, telling me that they'd found a tumor at the very far end of my colon and that the doctor wanted to speak to me when I was awake and ready to talk. I called the doc right away. The doctor told me that he was totally surprised when he found the tumor, that it was being biopsied, and that he asked them to rush the results.

No matter what the outcome of the biopsy; the tumor had to be removed, the doc said. He asked who I wanted to do the surgery. I somehow remembered that a lady I play golf with is a nurse for a gastro practice. I called her and found out who she'd ask for if she needed colon surgery. Once I got a name, I called my gastroenterologist back, told him who I wanted, and asked for an appointment.

My reaction when I got the biopsy report a few days later was much different from what I would ever have expected. I was totally calm and businesslike during all of my talks with all of the doctors. I never cried or felt panicked like I would have expected. I just "went with it." I've continued to do that for the past several months since my diagnosis.

I don't think I'm in denial, but I really do feel that everything will be fine, whatever happens. My faith has played a huge part in my attitude and I also have felt so much support from family and friends that I have just known that I can get through this very scary challenge.

The final word? I have stage III colon cancer. The first day I met my oncologist he told me that stage III colon cancer is curable. I was really surprised. I didn't think it was curable. From that point on I felt that I could be cured. I would do everything the doctors wanted me to do to be cured and if that didn't work, at least I would have done everything in my power. At that point it's up to a higher power.

Anyway, about three weeks after I was diagnosed with colon cancer I had surgery. I had a colon resection. The surgery went well, but the tumor had invaded the colon wall and cancer was detected in some lymph nodes. This was not the news we had hoped for.

I Am Not Cancer!
Fri., Jan. 6, 2006

It's hard to believe it's been four months since I was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer. During that time I've had a colon resection and four chemo treatments AND played lots of bridge, some golf, taken trips to New York, Atlanta, and Orlando, gone out for lunch with friends dozens of times, continued my Monday morning with Meals on Wheels, and -- well you get the idea.

Some days, even some weeks, I have so many medical appointments, see so many doctors and nurses, and have so many tests, that I start to feel like my whole life is about cancer. I just want to shout, "I'm not cancer!"

I am Patti. A Christian woman, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, bike rider, golfer, volunteer, card player, lover of books and music, traveler, and animal lover, and I have cancer.

But make no mistake, I AM NOT CANCER!

The holidays have been really wonderful this year. So many people have told me that many blessings come with having a serious disease, in my case stage III colon cancer.

It's hard to believe at first, but it's absolutely true. There is hardly a day these days that I don't have something special happen in my life. I've noticed that everything about the holidays took on a special significance this year. The trees and decorations seemed especially pretty, the lights were brighter, the carols sounded sweeter, and I realize more than ever how important my family and friends are.

I usually feel so stressed during the holidays that I hardly take time to really enjoy the season. Not this year. Even though I'm pretty tired these days while going through chemo, I enjoyed each and every minute and tried to do all of the special things that we all associate with Christmas.

I baked for everyone I could think of, tried to make all of my family's favorites, decorated a little more than usual and went to bed very exhausted -- a really GOOD tired -- every night. It just made me acutely aware of how we sometimes take so much for granted and only fully appreciate all we have when we become aware that it won't last forever.

I can't wait to enjoy it all again next year and the year after that.

Happy New Year.

Worst Fears and Realizations
Sat., Feb. 11, 2006

Good Morning America recently did a segment about "What are you most afraid of?"

The No. 1 answer was "snakes." Spiders were up there in the top five, and I don't remember the others because I started thinking about what my answer would be to that question.

We've all thought about it ever since we were kids. As long as I can remember, the thing I was most afraid of was "getting cancer." I wasn't particularly afraid of "dying of cancer" or getting any other horrific disease (although I certainly didn't want those), but I just thought the scariest thing imaginable was getting cancer.

Quick GuideColon Cancer: Symptoms, Signs, Screening, Stages

Colon Cancer: Symptoms, Signs, Screening, Stages

Well, about six months ago I WAS diagnosed with cancer. Colon cancer. Pretty scary. I had finally "met the devil." Even though it was scary, it was not nearly as terrifying as I had imagined. I've heard that the way to conquer a phobia or terrible fear is to meet it head on. I have done that with my fear. I deal with it every day. I fight it and expect to win.

Cancer is no longer my greatest fear. I think now it might be snakes.

Meanwhile, this week was a milestone in my battle with colon cancer. I had my seventh chemo treatment, which should mean I'm halfway through treatment. Hooray! Let me tell you about my chemo to give you a visual.

I take a combination of three drugs every other week. I have a port surgically implanted in an area near my collarbone that allows me to receive treatment in and out of the clinic. I receive two of the drugs over a five-hour period in the medical facility, and the third drug is in a pump that resembles a video cassette that I carry in a fanny pack. It's attached to my port and I take that drug over a 48-hour period.

I can go out to dinner, shopping, or wherever I feel like going with it.

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Reviewed on 9/26/2006

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