Once upon a time…
What better place to start than the beginning.
Cancer entered my life when I was 16 because it took hold of my mother. After a year of immobilizing pain (and a plethora of unpleasant symptoms) she finally allowed my father and I to take her to the emergency department on boxing day, 1998.
There began my intimate relationship with what would eventually become a part of me, not only emotionally but physiologically.
It took stage 4 colon cancer less than three months to take her. She left us on March 23rd, less than two months after my 17th birthday. My dad and I struggled to pick up the pieces. The matriarch and love of our lives was gone.
I vowed then, to never let it ‘get me’. I saw what it did. To her, to our family, to our souls. This insidious entity that has no regard for the human in us or how our lives are changed as a result.
And so, I grew up. Fast. Childhood was over. A piece of me left with her, forever.
I graduated high school the following year and made it my mission to not get cancer. I never missed a yearly exam. I always made doctor’s appointments when something felt like more than the regular ‘stuff’ and I started getting routine colonoscopy screenings when I turned 25. They always came back perfect…even the one I had done last year in June, 2017…when I was already metastatic without knowing it.
I thought for sure that my colon was where I had to be concerned, since it took my mom’s brother also. I think I got pigeon holed to ‘that’ cancer as a potential contender. Even though my mom’s other sister died of breast cancer and there was breast cancer on my dad’s side (oh! And my dad’s encounter with early bladder cancer)…
Basically, the odds were stacked against me, with regards to a rich family legacy of cancer. (But my God, my beautiful family on both sides are incredibly resilient and the most amazing people one could ever meet).
Now let me bring you up to speed with the physiological beginning of my new life with cancer.
Next Post: How The F**k Did This Happen? (Part 2)