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Me (diagnosed with Stage III Rectal @ age 26)

On April 28, 2010 my world was turned upside-down. Without an sort of family history or any previous illness, I was diagnosed with Stage III Rectal Cancer with a T4a Tumor (7CM) that was blocking 90% of my rectum - I was 26-years-old. After having my chest port surgery, I began six weeks (Monday-Friday) of pelvic radiation as well as 24-hour-continuous-infusion of 5FU that I wore in a fanny pack also M-F. After a short month of recovery, I had my first laparoscopic surgery on August 19, 2010, which consisted of removal of my tumor, my entire rectum, 6 lymphnodes and a permanent colostomy fixed to my lower-left abdomen. Having been formally trained since I was 2 in ballet, tap, jazz, pointe, & coaching a high school dance team when diagnosed, saying goodbye to a body that was my instrument was very bittersweet. 2 months later, I began a six-month cycle of FOLFOX for precaution, and heard the word "remission" mentioned for the first time on March 08, 2011. "This is finally over." I thought - but I was far from being anywhere close to correct. On July 1, 2011 a 1.5 cm tumor showed on my latest PET & I was referred to a colorectal surgeon specialist in Pittsburgh, PA. On September 21, 2011 I had surgery to remove my new tumor & surrounding tissue/cancerous cells, a complete hysterectomy, complete removal of my vaginal canal & external vagina, and finally, healthy muscle & tissue taken from my inner-left thigh to fill in my pelvis with healthy tissue & to also make "skin flaps" to rebuild that outside of my vagina {yes, at least that part looks normal! ;) }. I recovered for 3 months and began my next chemo regimen in January 2012. I completed 6 months of XELODA and amazingly enough, heard the wonderful word "remission" again on June 6, 2012. Since then, I have still been recovering from my latest surgery, feeling the after-effects of chemotherapy & radiation but enjoying every second of it. I know how lucky I am to have a 3rd chance; not many people even get a 2nd. Throughout our journey (I will always say "our's" because my diganosis was also my husband's & my family's) I realized that cancer was brought into my life for a reason - after searching for it through all the tears, the pain, the surgery, the anger, I realized it was to help spread the word about CRC and the importance of colonoscopies, especially those in the younger generations. "Under 50" no longer implies to CRC just as breast cancer no longer implies just to women. I share my experience on my blog "Goodbye Dancer, Hello Cancer" http://goodbyedancerhellocancer.blogspot.com in hopes of my story helping someone out in the world.

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

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