When I walked into this place for the first time in early June of 2015, I was terrified.
Just the week before, I had received a stunning diagnosis of Stage 3B rectal cancer. I had no idea what my future held, all I knew was that God was holding it (and me!) in His hands.
Over the next year I would undergo 8 weeks of chemo (4 rounds @ 2 weeks each), 5-6 weeks of daily radiation, 8 more weeks of chemo (4 rounds @ 2 weeks each), 6 weeks of recovery then surgery to remove the tumor and get an ileostomy bag that would thankfully be removed in a second surgery 12 weeks later. And then, of course, it took another several weeks before I finally began to feel "normal" again.
Since that first trip to the Cancer Center 6 years and 3 months ago, a lot has changed in my life. Both Dad and Mama have gone to Heaven, God has blessed us with 5 new grandchildren, and we have experienced God's faithfulness in our lives in countless ways. While of course I would never have chosen to go down the tunnel of fighting cancer, I truly believe God used that experience to refine me into a better person.
When I began the cancer journey, my amazing oncologist Dr. Bhatia told me I had become a part of the Cancer Mafia...once I got in, it would be very hard to get out (jokingly trying to put me at ease in that it would be a long process and several years of follow-up). Over the past 6 years and 3 months (but who's counting?) I have faithfully gone for all of my follow-up appointments, blood work, countless CTs and MRIs and colonoscopies, each time relieved to hear that all is good.
Yesterday Dr. Bhatia came into the exam room, fist-pumped me, and said he was firing me...releasing me from the Cancer Mafia. Of course there are no guarantees, but he said there is a 99% likelihood that the cancer will not return, to go live my life with gratitude.
I practically danced out those doors (yes, in those 6 years Community North Hospital built a brand new cancer facility) into the glorious sunshine with a huge smile on my face, thanking God for His healing and faithfulness to me.
Putting the "C" word behind me!
I am a SURVIVOR!!!