Lesson #1 Do Not Self-Diagnose
It was June 2014. I was 49 years old and planning to get a colonoscopy after the summer when I started experiencing some discomfort in my stomach. On some days it was hard to relax comfortably. My stomach began making loud digestive sounds, at times waking me from sleep. I attributed these symptoms to a fibroid in my uterus that I’d had for many years.
Lesson #2 Do Not Ignore Symptoms
The symptoms weren’t consistent, yet they eventually worsened. I was busy working as a group fitness instructor and a personal trainer, putting my symptoms on the back burner. I knew it was something more than my fibroid at this point. I had a loss of appetite, bloating, and constipation.
When I finally went to the emergency room, they ran several tests. The results showed there was a blockage and my intestines had flipped over. I needed surgery ASAP. The surgeon told me that had I arrived a few hours later, it would have been fatal. He removed a cancerous tumor in my colon, as well as a portion of my colon. I also had an appendectomy due to a carcinoma found on my appendix. I had a temporary colostomy and needed 12 rounds of chemotherapy due to microscopic cells found in my lymph nodes. I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer.
Lesson #3 Fitness and Positive Thinking Can Save Your Life
Fitness and positive thinking were always priorities in my life. The doctor made a point to recognize how strong I was both mentally and physically. As soon as I was home, I reached out to help others in cancer organizations to encourage and lift their spirits. I have a husband and three children who need me. I’m so grateful to be alive.