COLON CANCER - OUR JOURNEY WITH THIS DISEASE
Posted on March 01 2023,
June 9, 2020...the day our world stopped. The day everything came crashing down and made us stop and panic...then game plan and prepare for the biggest fight of our lives.
It all started in December of 2019. Rob was bringing Christmas presents up and down the stairs – we have a lot of stairs in this house, lol – and he was unusually out of breath. I was concerned but just thought...hey...we probably need to exercise. As the new year started it became more obvious that something was not right. So we made an appointment and bloodwork was drawn. Results came back that Rob was severely anemic. But we didn’t know why. Rob’s doctor told us that he was bleeding but didn’t know where from. Next steps...a scan.
Rob had a CT scan of his abdomen. I remember the day his doctor called to tell us the results. Rob was at work. Emma was home because Covid had just started and she was doing school from home. The doctor called and I locked myself in the bathroom. She told me that there was a thickening identified in his colon. She said that to determine what it was we would need to have a colonoscopy. I asked her what it could possibly be. She was vague and said that the colonoscopy would tell us what it is. Something in my soul made me ask...could it be cancer? She simply said...yes…
I immediately went into panic mode and my first call was to Rob’s mom. She, as she always does, calmed me. My father-in-law, who is a doctor, came on the line and calmed me more and we started looking at the facts. But I just did not have a good feeling.
The colonoscopy was planned for June 9. We had already planned to visit Rob’s parents in Myrtle Beach that week but decided to have the procedure, which was on a Tuesday, and drive down after. We arrived at the office and Rob went in by himself. It was Covid so no guests were allowed. I waited in the car with Emma and our “second daughter” Lauren (Emma’s BFF), acting like this was a normal procedure...nothing to worry about. The colonoscopy did not take long but to me it was an eternity. When it was over, the office called and said I could come in so we could meet with the doctor together.
Rob was rolled out of the procedure room...groggy. He took a look at me and in true Rob form...his first words were “I love you babes”.
We sat and chatted for a few minutes and then his GI doctor came in and in a very matter of fact manner stated...its cancer. In my heart...I knew that would be the answer. But in my brain I could not believe that this was true. I immediately broke down. Rob was calm and positive....as he still his today...and asked educated questions. I was a train wreck.
We left the doctor’s office and went straight to Myrtle Beach. I cried the whole way. Sitting in a car with four people and trying to hide tears was excruciating. Rob knew I was crying but I tried with everything I had to keep it from Emma. Which I did. She had no clue. We got to Myrtle Beach and was welcomed by a long and strong hug by Rob’s mom which was exactly what I needed. We regrouped that week....and set ourselves up to start the fight.
That was almost three years ago. When I think back it seems like that was forever ago but then it also seems like it was just yesterday. Rob has gone through 63 rounds of chemo. In December 2020, he had a massive surgery where they removed a foot of his colon and 70% of his liver. We have gone through high highs and extremely low lows. Our anxiety is through the roof. We live by our scans. They are truly our lifeline to sanity or panic.
So....here we are...33 months later....what have we learned...
WHEN IT COMES TO CANCER -
- GET YOUR COLON CHECKED – Colon cancer is attacking people younger and younger every day. This is not an “old person’s disease”. Rob was 42 when he was diagnosed – with Stage 4. GET YOUR COLONOSCOPY!!!!
- BE YOUR OWN ADVOCATE – Always get a second, third, fourth, hundredth opinion. You are literally fighting for your life. Don’t settle. Find your doctor. The one that will fight with you. This is the biggest fight of your life!
- ALIGN YOURSELF WITH YOUR PEOPLE – Find your people. People who are in this fight with you. Warriors, survivors, caregivers, supporters. Align yourself with those people. You will learn from them, grow with them, cry with them...and be with them.
WHEN IT COMES TO LIFE -
- APPRECIATE THE SMALL THINGS – Cancer has made me really understand what is important. It isn’t name brand purses, expensive trips or fancy things. It is creating memories, laughing and spending time with those you love.
- SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO LOVE YOU AND SUPPORT YOU – You need nothing but support during this time. Build your village with people who love and support you. You need them now more than ever.
- DO ALL THE THINGS – Create the memories, take the trip, eat the cake, live your life. As my BFF always tells me. No one knows what tomorrow holds. Don’t wait to do all of the things you love.
Love you friends! Thank you for being on this journey with us! It means more to us than you know!