I have been battling stage IV colon cancer for almost three years now. This new way of life started back on the 26th day of October 2016. It has been a whirlwind of ups and many, many downs. If I am honest with myself, I am feeling stronger from both. We had just lost my father-in-law to kidney cancer two weeks before, when I found out I had colon cancer. You never really think it can happen to you, but it sure can. Cancer tried to be slick and spread all over my body. It found its way to the peritoneal lining, my liver, gallbladder, spleen, sigmoid colon, appendix, and more. I almost lost my left leg during a major surgery which lasted nearly 24 hours in February 2017 to remove the cancer.
After a successful surgery, I was cancer-free for almost a year. It tried to sneak back like a thief in the night. After going through 12 rounds of chemotherapy, I realized I was not going to be done with treatment. Ever. This time, I was told that no matter what, chemo will be a part of me for the rest of my life. The American Cancer Society says that “An important part of coping with a cancer diagnosis is recognizing emotions and feelings. Treatment that deals with our emotions and relationships (sometimes called psychosocial interventions) can help people with cancer feel more upbeat and have a better quality of life.” Guess what cancer? You can’t and won’t stop this guy! Nope, I won’t let you!
Everyone deserves a break, right? After I had several scans showing no evidence of disease (NED), that is exactly what I did– I took a break. I definitely have a love-hate relationship with chemo. I know it is helping me; but, at the same time, it’s not anyone’s idea of fun. I used my time off from chemo to seek out clinical trials and possible alternatives to chemotherapy, because I knew that extended periods of treatment would take a physical and mental toll on me. Unfortunately, after several hospital visits, we saw cancer’s nasty face again on my PET scans. I was headed back to surgery.
This time, when I came out of surgery, I had a new accessory. It was something that I had needed for a very long time. I am now a part of the colostomy bag club! This procedure was life changing, but also life saving for me. I was losing weight and could not catch a break. I was in and out of the hospital until one of the best colon surgeons at Anne Arundel Medical Center took a chance and gave me back my life. A life that was slipping through the tight grip I was trying so desperately to maintain.
Here I am today. I’m still in the fight, but I’m winning my life back. Cancer will never win! My wife of 14 years, Danielle, still needs me; and, most importantly, I have a very active and healthy six-year-old son, Devin, that needs me around to help explore and learn all about the ups and downs in life. I may have seen some down times, but I am here to remind him that the most important parts of this crazy ride are the ups!