My name is Stella Herman. In late 2019, I started to see the blood in my stool. I didn’t take any action because I didn’t feel any abdominal pain or fever. So in January 2020, I went to the hospital for checkups. They assured me that I was okay. After one week, I called my friend, who was a doctor. He asked me to go for a colonoscopy. I went into town, and I underwent a colonoscopy. It revealed I had a rectal tumour. It was a stage two colorectal tumour.
My first reaction of my family and me
I was waiting for the result when the biopsy was taken, and I was close to God. And I had this feeling that every human being is mortal. So I accepted that I have cancer. First, I must admit that I have cancer and look for a way forward. The first thought I got was to accept my situation and the treatment.
I didn’t tell my husband. I wanted to fight alone and didn’t want to shock him with that bad news. So, I told him that it was a tumour in my intestine, but I didn’t say to him that it was cancer. Finally, he got the news from my mother, and he was shocked. By then, I had gone through the first and second surgery. I did this to protect him and my kid, who was only two and a half years old. She didn’t understand. But whenever she found me sick due to the side effects, she asked me if she could bring something.
My friends were also shocked. Some of them called me and asked me if I was scared. I told them I was not afraid because I had to face it. No one will live forever in this world. There is an infinity of life, and I’m ready to face it.
I went through all the cancer treatments. In April 2020, I underwent surgery to remove part of the colon and mini rectum, 22 cm in length. After three weeks, I had another surgery to create a stoma or colostomy. So I had a colostomy for eight months. In December 2020, I underwent another surgery to close the stoma. It was followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I underwent 30 radiations and 30 days of oral chemotherapy.
I opened up this WhatsApp group for fundraising. I had national health insurance, but it didn’t cover every medical expense. There was a circular stapler I needed that could make anastomosis easy during the operations. It was very costly, and I couldn’t manage it. So I did the fundraising, which made it easier to undergo the treatment.
Cancer has changed me personally. I had life, but I wasn’t living well before cancer. But after cancer, I value every minute that God has given me. It has shaped me to be a better person. Before, I trusted everyone. While battling cancer, some of my very close relatives rejected me. I stayed for two weeks in the hospital and had only my mother. Friends were closer to me than my relatives. They called me often and even provided financial help.
Message for people who have given up their hope
After doctors saw my strength, they asked me to help other patients. People reject cancer treatment due to a lack of awareness that cancer is treatable. They don’t believe that cancer is treatable. So they find another way. They go to the witch doctors. By the time they seek medical help, cancer has already spread to people. So, a lot of patients lose their lives. I suggest that cancer patients accept their situation.
Life lessons number one, every human being is significant despite their weaknesses or illness. The second lesson is that cancer has shaped me. I provide awareness of what I went through. But after battling it, I have learned that this cancer is treatable and sometimes preventable. Lesson number three is we have to see everything that’s very important. When we leave, we live just once. So now I fight harder if I want something.
Helping others to deal with negative thoughts
I always tell the other cancer patients that they have to accept they have cancer and look forward to it because cancer is treatable. They should listen to doctors and have trust in God. Even if you have cancer and are under palliative care, you must live every second of your life to the best. Life is a great gift. They shouldn’t have to give up until cancer gives up itself.
Fear of recurrence
I thought about recurrence. Anyway, I will die anytime. At the end of life is death. So why should I be scared? I’m not afraid of anything right now. I have battled it already.