Surgery to remove the tumor was scheduled as soon as possible, upon my request. The surgery went extremely well and the pathology report had a fantastic prognosis. It appears the tumor had not grown any larger from when my gynecologist had examined me 4 months earlier. In the months leading up to the diagnosis, I had a "feeling" that something was "wrong", yet I had no idea what it was. I began working out at the gym 5 days a week and had an extremely healthy diet, to help ease the irrational anxiety I was having. So I look back in retrospect, and wonder if the radical change I made to my health may have halted the cancer from growing/spreading. My only treatment after surgery was 7 weeks of daily radiation therapy.
Two months after completing my breast cancer radiation treatments, I began to "sense" something was wrong again. I tried fighting off the feeling, assuming it was just a normal feeling of worry that everyone goes through after they've completed treatment for cancer. When you're in the "fight" mode, going through treatments, you have a sense of control, you're actively fighting the cancer. But once you've completed treatments, you feel vulnerable.
By the end of the summer of 2005, I began having anxiety attacks. I made an appointment with my radiation oncologist and told him I thought there was cancer somewhere else in my body. I mentioned that a few months earlier I had seen blood in the toilet after I had gone to the bathroom. My father had colon cancer at the age of 62 and I was only 39 years old at this point. I told him I wanted to have a colonoscopy. I knew deep down in my heart that they were going to find something, despite not having any symptoms. When I awoke from the sedation, my fears were confirmed. My doctor found a tiny little growth. It was SO small that he put a tattoo of a black dot on either side of it so the next doctor would be able to find it. The pathology report came back and confirmed it was colorectal cancer.
My surgeon who had done my breast surgery was truly shocked when she received the news. I was completely wrapped in fear, and honestly, filled with rage. I couldn't believe that someone as healthy as I was stricken with TWO cancers back-to-back. I felt like my body was betraying me! Surgery was scheduled immediately (9/16/05), and thankfully, went extremely well.
As of September 16, 2005, I have been cancer-free. There have been no recurrences or any new cancers cropping up. But I have to be very honest, I was really knocked for a loop when I got a 2nd diagnosis so soon after the first. I just celebrated being 7 years colon cancer free last month. I will be celebrating being breast cancer free this month on October 27th. Mine is definitely a success story, and a true testament of needing to listen to your body. One thing is for sure, I learned just how strong and resilient I really am. It's a true wonder that I made it through all of this.
The first couple of years were a very dark time for me. I'm still a work in progress and continuing to reinvent myself. Throughout these trials I've faced, I've become much more compassionate about life and I got involved with rescuing animals. I'm still very passionate about skincare and ingredients, and have become the skincare expert in my circle of friends and family. Sometimes you'll even find me advising total strangers in the skincare aisle about different moisturizers and cleansers! My boyfriend always chuckles when he sees that happen. Throughout this experience, I've continued to take very good care of myself and my skin, so despite treatments and surgery, none of it has shown in my outward, physical appearance. I still feel beautiful. And now, with all the tests and treatments I’ve been through, I know I’m just as beautiful on the outside as I am on the inside.
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