Meet our January 2016 Survivor Spotlight: Virginia Payne

VirginiaLearn more below about Virginia Payne, our featured Survivor Spotlight for January. Virginia shares more about her personal experience with colon cancer, her advice for others, and more!

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?  What kind of treatment did you receive?)

I was diagnosed with Stage 3B Colon Cancer on June 10, 2013 at the age of 43 years old.  My surgery was performed 9 days later and my surgeon performed a right hemicolectomy, where he removed 3 feet of my colon including 27 lymph nodes. 12 rounds of chemotherapy followed.

How were you affected by cancer?

My cancer diagnosis changed my life.  I was not expecting to hear, “I’m sorry but I’m 99.9% sure we are dealing with cancer”.  When I heard those words, I felt like I was just ran over by a truck.  I instantly went into “fix me” mode.  With my husband by my side, he tackled this obstacle head on!

What did you find was most beneficial to you while going through treatment/surgeries, etc.?

I had a lot of people who instantly got on board and wanted to help us out. I had several family members and friends who were in the medical field and their words of advise and encouragement is what I found most beneficial to me when I was going through my treatments. Our friend, Debbie, came over and was a huge help.  She prepared a binder for me.  The binder was full of information and it helped me to organize all the paperwork I was receiving..

What are a few pieces of advice you would offer to those who have recently faced a diagnosis?

I would like to offer a bit of advise for anyone who has recently been diagnosed with Colon Cancer.  You are full of questions and uncertainties.  Start a journal and write down your thoughts and questions.  This journal will be useful when you go to the doctor’s appointments.

What are a few pieces of advice you would offer to the family members of the diagnosed?

To the family members of the cancer patient, have patience and try to get things normal.  We know this is affecting you as well.  Our boys were 11 and 15 when I was diagnosed. This diagnosis was hard for them to understand.  My husband and I decided not to shield the boys from what was going on with me, and to keep them in their normal routines as much as possible.

What do you think is the most important thing to remember while fighting the difficult and indescribable battle with cancer?

I think the most important thing to remember while you are fighting your battle with cancer is to stay POSITIVE!  I believe your mental state plays a huge part in the effectiveness of treatments.  Remove the negativity from your life and stay focused on yourself.  You Can Beat This!!!

What has been the toughest part of your experience with colon cancer? 

The toughest part of my experience with colon cancer is dealing with the unknown, the what if’s.  Everyday it’s a struggle for me, but I’m learning to live for today and not worry about tomorrow.

What are you proudest of?

I am proud of my husband and my two boys.  They stood beside me throughout my entire ordeal and continue even today.  They were my backbone when I didn’t think I had one.  They made many sacrifices in their lives in order to care for me.  I am blessed to have these three guys with me on this journey I call life! 

What are you most grateful for?

I am most grateful for my sister, Sara!  I call her my guardian angel who saved my life.  I am grateful that she was observant in what I was doing and recommended that I go see my family doctor.

What is your biggest dream today?

My biggest dream today is to help prevent Colon Cancer.  When I heard that colon cancer was over 90 % preventable with early detection, but was the second leading cancer causing deaths in the US, I knew something had to be done.  My family is committed to helping educate others about the importance of early screenings.