I was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer in May 2021. I was very sleepy & too tired & thought it was diabetes as it ran through my family. I visited the doctor & got tested for diabetes, but I had some problems with my tests while using the bathroom; hence doctors decided to run tests for cancer detection & they found a tumor in my vaginal vulva, which was spreading through my lymph nodes. That’s how it was detected & I started chemotherapy immediately.
I started with chemotherapy medicine named 5fu, purple, as these medicines come in various shades. I lost 40 pounds in 6 weeks. It was a powerful medicine & I had five weeks of chemotherapy. Radiation started a week later.
What kept me positive during the journey?
My first reaction was denial when I was diagnosed with cancer, but my family was highly supportive. The news popped up 4-5 days before my 42nd birthday, where initially I thought everything was so perfect in my life. I received a call that mentioned that I have stage 4 cancer & I reacted by saying that the caller must have read something wrong. Everybody started asking questions as I was in denial mode, like what’s the next step? The family’s love and support got me over in denial mode. Their love, affection & support made a huge difference mentally & spiritually. I am much closer to my family now.
Choices during the treatment
Chemotherapy was the only choice for my treatment. It was entirely new territory for me. I finished my chemotherapy on 23rd July. Radiation made me sick & I was in the hospital for a month & I am still healing from it. Chemo & radiation are very hard. If they ask me to do it again, I will ask for alternative therapy. I had a hair loss weight loss due to chemotherapy & radiation therapy.
I stayed in communication with supportive people & my family. I only kept positive people around me who helped deal with cancer. For example, if someone was complaining about their life or job, I had to keep them away from me. Trying to stay productive & busy most of the time, like folding clothes and rearranging stuff in my room, was the trick I used to keep cancer out of my mind. Things get a lot better when you stop thinking about it.
Doctors & medical staff
They were beautiful, amazing people who ran a couple of tests as I was down with fever & they were unable to understand why I was running with fever which made me feel secure as they were not going to let me go & figure out the root cause. They did not leave any stone unturned, which made me so confident & not let me go until they figured out what was going around. They were comforting and blunt with the truth as I had requested my doctors to do so because I needed to know the truth, but at the same time, they were not rash. They did all of that for me, explained to me all the steps of treatment & answered all my questions. Their support made me walk through this journey effectively.
I had to quit smoking which I used to do earlier. Praying & the bible kept me motivated throughout my journey. Cancer has taught me to be strong at the same time to have a voice & not to be on the back burner, which helped to get rid of toxic people. I got packages in the mail from family and friends, one of which was a sweater saying, “Mom was temporarily out of order, please try again later” Such surprises were terrific & helped me survive this journey.
Before diagnosis, I was surrounded by people; most of the time, I was accompanied by family and friends. After diagnosis, most of them were scared & treated me as a patient; I somehow felt it was out of pity. I started to appreciate people who would call, text, or visit me.
Grateful in Life
Cancer is a giant monster, but it has made me stronger & positively changed me. Embrace life & positivity around you as negative things don’t last for long. Family & their support means a lot & everything in life. I learnt life is not a promise & we are not immortal. Be it any situation, keep your head up & stay focused on anything positive. My life is nice & peaceful post-cancer detection.
Parting Message to Cancer Survivors
My message to all patients & caregivers is “Respect that Cancer is powerful”, & it’s up to you that things will change on the positive or negative side. While going through this difficult phase, you need strong willpower and happiness. It would be best to accept that you have cancer and need to fight it. Having a positive approach is the only way to fight cancer. Stay positive as much as you can; try to write a journal that mentions day to day activities. Look for supportive people/ groups around you who can laugh and spend time with you without stress.
Remember that “Just one brave step & you can pass through anything in life”. A solid & positive spirit helps overcome fear, side effects of treatment like weight & hair loss, anxiety.
I did not join any support group but going through all memes by cancer patients & reading comments helped me a lot in my journey & also, I am looking forward to joining a support group. Best luck to all the people on this journey!