As informed to Liz Sauchelli
The day I bought my colon most cancers analysis, my husband and I purchased a bottle of champagne. We have been driving dwelling from the hospital crying and I simply stated, “Babe, we have to cease and get a bottle of champagne as a result of we’re going to toast to kicking most cancers’s butt and being on the opposite aspect of this factor.” Within the image I’ve from our toast that day, our eyes are swollen from tears.
My most cancers journey started almost seven months earlier in January, after I was 47. I used to be feeling lightheaded, dizzy and bloated. After I went to the lavatory, I wasn’t having an entire bowel motion. My urge for food had decreased and by the point I went to my OBGYN in March, I’d begun to note just a little little bit of blood in my stool. My physician brushed it off and stated it was hemorrhoids, however I pushed again. She agreed to order me a fecal occult take a look at to see if they might detect most cancers.
The take a look at got here again detrimental, however one thing nonetheless felt off, so I known as my physician again a pair months later and requested her to schedule a colonoscopy. Within the months main as much as the process, my situation worsened. I might barely eat and the blood in my stool tremendously elevated.
Kimberly together with her champagne, celebrating “kicking most cancers’s butt” after her analysis, July 24, 2015.
However after I went in for a seek the advice of earlier than my colonoscopy, the doctor wasn’t even positive in the event that they have been going to display screen me. Then I confirmed her an image of my bloody stool and her perspective utterly modified. I bought an appointment for the subsequent week.
At that time, I knew one thing was actually mistaken, so it wasn’t an entire shock after I awakened from my colonoscopy and the physician informed me I had a fist-sized, malignant tumor in my sigmoid colon. However he by no means stated the phrase “most cancers.” My husband and I had been laughing popping out of the anesthesia, however I finished. “Wait, are you saying I’ve most cancers?” I requested. The physician replied with a somber sure.
Every thing shifted. The colour within the room was totally different. It felt like a movie dropped over my eyes and from that time ahead, I noticed the world otherwise. Time appeared extra finite.
I used to be a busy stay-at-home mother with a 7-, 10- and 12-year outdated, and I used to be all the time on the go. On the time of my analysis, my youngsters have been visiting their grandparents in California, so my husband and I had a few weeks to course of the information earlier than sharing it with them.
In fact, they took it onerous as a result of, regardless that they have been younger, they knew the phrase most cancers they usually equate it with demise. All of us began to cry. I couldn’t promise them I wasn’t going to die — I simply didn’t know. However I informed them, “Hey, we’re going to combat this and we’re going to get by means of it the very best we will.” And that’s precisely what we did.
Life grew to become a whirlwind of physician’s appointments. I had six weeks of oral chemo and 33 radiation remedies to my pelvis to shrink the dimensions of the tumor. Then, 10 days earlier than my surgical procedure to take away the tumor, I suffered a bowel perforation and obstruction. One in all my youngsters discovered me within the fetal place within the bathtub, and I informed them to go get the neighbors. By the point they bought me up and dressed, the ambulance rushed me to the hospital, the place I had emergency surgical procedure.
Restoration was sluggish. After 10 days within the hospital, I had six weeks of occupational and bodily remedy to begin strolling once more. The actually cool factor about it, although, was that it helped me to cease and actually scent the flowers, to absorb issues that I’d usually simply cross by. As I used my walker to get round my neighborhood, I finished to take images of flowers and nature. For the primary time, I began to really admire the little issues.
All through the six months of chemo following my surgical procedure, I attempted to remain optimistic. Earlier than getting in for chemo, I’d watch a comedy like “I Love Lucy” to raise my temper. I’d do small workouts to get my endorphins up.
As optimistic as I’ve tried to be, there have been many nights I cried myself to sleep as a result of I used to be in a lot ache. I let myself grieve the elements of my physique that modified and acknowledge that what I misplaced was essential. Then, I’d deal with the truth that I used to be nonetheless alive, that there have been methods I might nonetheless get pleasure from life. I cherish on daily basis I get up subsequent to my husband and spend time with my youngsters.
Kimberly on a latest live performance date evening together with her husband of almost 23 years, whom she describes because the “most compassionate caregiver” 2022.
I’d been informed earlier than surgical procedure that I’d have an ostomy bag for six weeks, however due to the problems I suffered, that timeline was moved to 2 years. I took it in stride. After the 2 years have been up, I made a decision to maintain the bag: Reversal surgical procedure might be fairly onerous on folks, and I didn’t need to put my physique by means of extra trauma.
I’ve now had my ostomy bag for six years and, in some methods, it’s been very releasing. After my analysis, I struggled with how I considered my physique. I wished to reclaim my femininity and rebuild my power after my physique was weakened by therapy. That’s after I determined to take up dancing.
Burlesque and pole dance are artwork types that I’ve all the time beloved to look at, however I don’t suppose I ever thought I’d attempt them. However after my analysis, I had the braveness to take action. Pole dancing improved my power after my physique was weakened by therapy. I additionally began performing, which has helped me construct my confidence and really feel extra snug in my physique as it’s now. After I dance, I proudly showcase my ostomy bag. It’s a part of who I’m and what I’ve survived.
5 years after I used to be declared cancer-free, I used to be identified with ischemic colitis, which implies the arteries in my colon are beginning to die. I’ve been on totally different medicines and bouts of mattress relaxation because the medical doctors work to determine the foundation trigger.
However I proceed to maintain my spirits up. I dance, I roller-skate and I proceed to advocate for individuals who have colon most cancers. I by no means imagined I’d look again six years after my analysis and be grateful that I used to be enriched by that journey. Every day, I take a second to deal with the truth that I’m nonetheless right here — and I can nonetheless get pleasure from my life.
This useful resource was created with help from Merck.