Can you please share a little bit about your cancer diagnosis and treatment? (how old were you at the time of diagnosis? what type of cancer was it and what stage? and what kind of treatment did you receive?)
I was 53 years old when I was diagnosed with advanced stage Colon Cancer on January 7, 2013. I was placed on a fast track of treatments since my tumor was so large and fast growing. I was having my first CT scan within the first few hours of my colonoscopy. I started with daily radiation treatments for 8 weeks, also I was given a Chemotherapy pump for 16 weeks. Surgery was scheduled for May 20th, just two days past my youngest daughter’s graduation from Mercy Academy. I started more chemotherapy infusions for another 16 weeks. My last treatment was completed at the end of October 2013.
How were you affected by cancer?
Cancer has affected my body with bowel issues due to losing a large section of my colon, my strength has also been affected since chemotherapy. I have neuropathy in my feet and fingers that causes loss of feeling and makes it hard to do the things I use to do. My marriage has been affected since my surgery has caused male issues.
What did you find was most beneficial to you while going through treatment/surgeries, etc.?
During all my treatments from chemotherapy to radiation, I found that I can survive the great pain and weakness from Chemotherapy. I found that I can do anything.
Looking back on your experience, what do you wish you had known before/during your fight?
I wish that I had known more survivors that could have helped me through my cancer journey. I walked this journey alone; my family had just finished a 24-year battle of Cystic Fibrosis and caregiving that they couldn’t help. I desire to help others through their fight.
What are a few pieces of advice you would offer to those who have recently faced a diagnosis?
Don’t ever give up. The treatments are just a journey to fighting cancer. Never let cancer win. Fight. Fight and “kick cancer’s butt”. When things get hard and you just feel you’ve had enough, call another survivor to sit with you or take you to treatments and encourage you to continue. Most important is never lose your faith – this made it easier for me to continue a very long treatment journey.
What are a few pieces of advice you would offer to the family members of the diagnosed?
I ask those family members of cancer fighters to never lose their faith. Never give up their own fight of caregiving to their love ones. Find someone they can talk to and share their own frustrations and concerns with instead of the cancer fighter. Be sure to take time for themselves – your loved one needs you physically, emotionally, and mentally in shape. Caregiving is a tough job.
What do you think is the most important thing to remember while fighting the difficult and indescribable battle with cancer?
Don’t let Cancer Win!
If you could communicate anything to those who have been affected by cancer and those that may be, what would that be?
Never let Cancer take away your dreams and desire.
What has been the toughest part of your experience with colon cancer?
On January 7th, 2013, I had to sit my family down and tell them I had advanced stage colon cancer. My family had just buried my eldest daughter only 18 months before after her battle of Cystic Fibrosis.
What are you proudest of?
Surviving! My friends of the Colon Cancer Prevention Project.
What are you most grateful for?
Surviving this cancer; to be able to share my experiences with others and to promote early screening (which if I had it at age 50, my diagnosis may have been very different).
What is your biggest dream today?
I am embarking on creating a podcast radio station to bring the awareness of early screenings to men, which we seem not to do.
Thank you, Caleb, for sharing your answers and more about you and your cancer experience! You are an inspiration in many ways!
Are you interested in being the featured “Survivor Spotlight” in the future? Email Lindy at LReinhardt@kickingbutt.org, if so!