Learning from Colorectal Cancer Survivors
My summer involvement with Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation has been a very illuminating experience to say the least. Prior to my involvement with the foundation, I was unaware how prominent colorectal cancer was. It was a wakeup call when I learned that colorectal cancer was the second leading cause of cancer related deaths – just under lung cancer. But, metaphorically speaking, this was only the first step down the road to better understanding colorectal cancer. Though I am by no means an expert on colorectal cancer, I have learned a great deal this summer, most of it through the inspirational stories of survivors.
The biggest surprise for me was in learning that, for a survivor, the journey is not over after surgery. That the journey isn’t even done after the patient completes chemo and starts into remission. In my ignorance, I didn’t give much thought to what happened to a survivor after this stage, I thought that naturally they would just go back to their normal life. But what is normal after colorectal cancer?
This is not a question I had previously considered, and it is something each of these patients needed to answer for themselves. No matter how you look at it, having colorectal cancer is a life altering experience; however, it is not always for the worse. This isn’t to say that there are not tribulations, but these are tribulations that can be, have been, and will continue to be overcome with the help of friends and caregivers. Most of the survivors I have had the pleasure of talking to have stressed the fact that this is an experience filled with personal growth. They have highlighted the fact that though it was a difficult experience – some even needing to hit a ‘rock bottom’ stage – they have progressed to a point of greater happiness and better health. I have noticed this in every survivor I have met; there is a level of confidence and happiness that is not detectable in your everyday individual. These survivors are truly to be admired, and I am grateful to Chris4Life for this experience.
Are you at Risk For Colorectal Cancer?
- 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women combined
- Colonoscopies not only discover cancer, but can also stop cancer
- 50% of Americans still do not get colonoscopy reimbursement
- Colon cancer research is still vastly under-funded