I am a wife, mother of two, and a kindergarten teacher.
My journey began the summer of 2019 the year I was turning 50. I started feeling pain in what I thought was my tailbone. At first, I dismissed it thinking I might be sore from a workout. The soreness never went away, in fact, it kept getting worse. By August of 2019 I was seeing doctors on a weekly basis trying to figure out why I was in so much pain. Each day the pain got worse. I went to several types of doctors: OBGYN, neurologist, orthopedic, and even began physical therapy. I underwent many tests, but nothing revealed the source of the problem.
After months of pain, I left school on the morning of November 4, 2019 (one week after turning 50) and went to the Emergency Room. I finally got some answers, I had stage III anal cancer. Now that I knew the problem I could focus on a solution. My amazing husband was essential to get me through this. He is my high school sweetheart and still the love of my life.
I was not eating, because of the pain I was experiencing. I was down to 93 pounds and my husband was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get through 6 weeks of radiation and chemotherapy if I wasn’t eating. I had surgery for a temporary ileostomy in December of 2019. I began to eat and started cancer treatment. My tumor got worse before it became better, and treatment was successful. Unfortunately, the size of my tumor damaged my anus, rectum and sphincter, therefore ileostomy reversal was no longer an option.
On August 25, 2020, my daughter’s 13th birthday, I had Abdominal Perineal Resection (APR) Surgery. This was a major surgery that left me with a permanent colostomy, and thankfully, cancer free.
Today, I am an anal cancer thriver/survivor living my best life. I am so grateful for my husband, family, friends, and doctors who all played a role in my recovery. I’m still a wife, mom and kindergarten teacher appreciating every single day. My colostomy has not stopped me in any way. On the contrary, it has given me my life back.