February is the month of love, and oh how fitting that as we introduce Miss February 2012.
Belle Piazza is a charming mom of two and avid gardener from Battle Ground, WA. She's fun, spirited and a fighter. Read on to learn a little bit more about Belle.
The BASICS about BELLE PIAZZA
Name: Belle Piazza
Diagnosis date: October 23, 2007 (a day before her son's 5th birthday) with stage IIIc rectal cancer at age 43
Currently undergoing chemotherapy.
ON SURVIVING CANCER:
How did you feel when you were diagnosed with colon cancer? It didn’t really sink in until after the surgery when they told me how many lymph nodes were involved. I was initially diagnosed with stage II and went straight to surgery, not planning on chemo and radiation. During surgery, they removed 38 lymph nodes and 27 had cancer. When the pathology report came back we learned that initial reports weren't accurate; a lot of lymph nodes were involved.
What were your symptoms? I experienced increased frequency of bathroom use, urgency, bright red blood on toilet paper and I was passing blood when I passed gas. Anytime I ate, I had to run to the bathroom. Anything in my stomach made me go to the restroom. But, I didn't have any pain.
What did your treatment involve? Surgery, a temporary ileostomy for a year, 10 rounds of chemo, 2 rounds of Zelota, chemo/radiation combo with 30 radiation treatments for 6 weeks, an ileostomy reversal, hernia repairs, and VATS (video-assisted thoracic surgery). I'm currently on chemo.
Worst thing about treatment? In radiation I experienced constant pain; I couldn't lie flat and had to sit in a chair because it hurt to straighten out. It burned my skin.
What got you through cancer treatment? My friends and my amazing support group. Also, The Colon Club. When I get bad news, The Colon Club is the first place I go because the people there "get it." I've had tremendous support from friends - friends who help me in the garden, watch my kids, go with me to chemo, cook for me and more. They've provided so much support in every way.
WHAT HAS SURVIVING COLON CANCER TAUGHT YOU…
About your body? It’s just a body, it's not who you are.
About life? Humility.
Do you do anything now that you didn’t before, thanks to cancer? Not really because I’ve always done whatever I wanted to do; it hasn’t made me a better person. I have no regrets.
Does cancer run in your family? My father died of colon cancer at 67.
RANDOM INFO ABOUT BELLE
Family: Stephen – husband. I also have 2 kids - Amber and Michael
Job? Stay at home mom!
First job? Cloth World
Hobbies: Gardening, home canning and cooking from my garden produce, wine tasting, bird watching
Favorite vegetable to grow? Corn
Where are you from? Originally from Phoenix, AZ and later moved to Washington State
Preferred toilet paper brand? Charmin Ultra Soft