Friends, family, the last 2 people who read this blog, as some of you know, I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in October. This cancer diagnosis came as a complete shock, as I have no family history of the disease, and at 32, I feel like I’m half the age of a typical patient.
Sometime in mid-September I came down with some mild stomach issues–frequent indigestion, loss of appetite, occasional bloody stool. Thinking I’d picked up a bug on one of my September vacations, I went to my primary care physician on September 30th. The doctor found no fever or sign of infection, but noticed my liver was swollen, indicating something more serious, like hepatitis, mono, or cancer. He ordered a CT scan the same day, which showed a mass at the very end of the stigmoid colon and spots in the local lymph nodes and on my liver, strongly suggesting colon cancer. I had a consult with a gastroenterologist on October 2nd and he came to the same conclusion, so we scheduled a colonoscopy* for the next week. The colonoscopy on October 7 confirmed a 4cm moderately differentiated cancerous tumor in my colon. The next week, I got the blood test results from my primary care physician showing elevated liver enzymes and a low Vitamin D number, both also indicative of cancer in the body.
Where We Go From Here
My oncologist has recommended 6 months of a chemotherapy regimen (FOLFOX+Avastin) to arrest the spread of the disease before having surgery to remove the primary tumor. She feels the primary tumor is in such a location that it is not an immediate threat to bowel function. The metastatic disease is a greater threat to my health at this point. I’m visiting Georgetown University’s Lombardi Cancer Center–the place to go in the D.C. area–this week for a second opinion and to discuss clinical trial opportunities. However I proceed, the start of treatment is imminent.
Fighting cancer is not where I thought I’d be in my life at 32. I don’t know why God has added this to my story; I would have much preferred a wife. 🙂 But asking why or assigning blame are pointless. They do nothing to get me where I want to be, which is back to health. And since my symptoms at the moment amount to nothing more than a mild case of the flu, I intend to fight this thing and be around for a while.
My parents have been wonderful during this ordeal so far. They’ve driven the 5 hours from northern New Jersey for each of the important doctor meet-and-greets. And I feel I have a good group of friends and acquaintances whom I can count on to cover the little things once chemo starts to take its toll.
My mom has the prayer chain thing under control (14+ at last count), but if you’re religiously inclined, feel free to send something up on my behalf. I’d of course appreciate it. And if the rest of you just think happy thoughts, we’ll have all the bases covered. 🙂
Best regards and thanks for reading,
*The American Cancer Society recommends colonoscopies for everyone over the age of 50. Colon cancer is generally a slow growing cancer–removing a precancerous polyp in one’s 50s prevents cancer in one’s 60s or 70s. Obviously, that would not have helped me in my situation–nobody does colonoscopies for college kids–but the procedure is nothing to be scared of. Preparation is kind of annoying but the procedure itself is painless and over in less than an hour. If you’re a candidate for one, you need to get over the embarrassment of the procedure and just get it done. It could save your life.