It took six months for me to be diagnosed with colon cancer. I began having bowel problems in December 2002. My stomach was in knots, cramping, and I had not had a sufficient bowel movement in almost two weeks. I went to the emergency room and was sent home without finding out what was wrong. The next month I had two surgeries to remove my ovaries and uterus and it was presumed that the problem was fixed.
In June 2003, I made my third trip to the emergency room. Finally I was asked about my health history and was given a blood test, resulting in my taking a Fecal test to determine if I had blood in my stool. The test was positive, and I was quickly diagnosed with stage IIB colon cancer.
I had no idea how much my life was going to change with this diagnosis. I did not know how to process the information I had been given. I wanted to ask questions but I didn’t -- I was just numb. Reality began to catch up with me after the surgery, and I had my large intestine removed and a resection to the small intestine. I was not able to care for myself, but had to rely on family and friends to take care of me. The woman who had held down a stressful blue-collar job as a bus driver, the mother of five girls, the sister, the daughter, the niece, the best friend, the superwoman as I was sometimes called, was now taken down by cancer. I tried to talk to family and friends, but as much as they had sympathy for my experience, they couldn’t help me feel better.
I lost 50 pounds within nine days of my surgery. I was scary to look at, but everyone put on a brave face for my sake. I continued to pretend like I was dealing with everything just fine, putting on a fake smile when people would see me to help ease their shock. Then the other problems started to kick in. My job’s disability didn’t pay nearly enough for my mortgage, utility bills and the needs of the children. I called agency after agency with very few results and finally, all the stresses caught up with me. Depression took over and I attempted suicide, which caused me to spend five days in the hospital on 24-hour watch. I had a wonderful nurse that said to me,
“Everyone will tell your children their version of you, who can tell the story of your life better than you? You have to finish the story of your life and let your children have their story and memories of you.”