We lost Jeffrey in 2020. He was a kindhearted soul and lover of techno music and dancing. He was a supportive and beloved anal cancer peer to many other men seeking advice and a warm and understanding shoulder to lean on.
Jeffrey's story follows below:
My name is Jeffrey. I'm 53 years old, and I happily reside in beautiful San Francisco, CA.
September 2013 I had my first colonoscopy, with great results. Although I was diagnosed with HIV and have had on going monthly chemotherapy treatments for Kaposi’s Sarcoma since 1997, I'm doing very well.
My nurse practitioner suggested that I visit an anal dysplasia specialist. Never having any symptoms of any kind, we thought it best to have a thorough exam. During the physical exam, my doctor felt a hardened area and immediately took a biopsy. Intuitively I felt that I had some form of cancer. Within a week’s time, I received the call and yes, I had anal cancer stage 1. I'm a super-optimist and knew whatever I had to face I would survive and get through it.
From that point on, I met with my 'Dream Team' -- the best oncologist and radiologist/oncologist in San Francisco, CA. I had several meetings with them to get all the information that I needed to prepare me for what was ahead.
I put my job on hold the beginning of November. I felt it important to get all personal items in order. Spreading the word to those close to me and setting up my support system were priorities - simply getting emotionally and physically ready for the scary and painful path. I do believe that having always worked out, that my body was strong and ready for war.
Ready, set and here we go with my first round of chemotherapy, which I had for 24 hours a day for five days consecutively. Immediately following chemo, I begin approximately 30 days of radiation.
I would see my doctor weekly to make sure that I was on track and advise them of any side effects I was experiencing. I was told that the radiation over time would begin to do its work and the pain of going to the bathroom would be pain like no other. It became very difficult to go around day 24. However, following suggestions of a good diet, moisturizing, hydrating and rest all became manageable. The best advice of all was to purchase a Sitz Bath. It made all of the difference in the world.
My best advice to all is to take it hour-by-hour and day-by-day. Staying present really helped immensely.
Today I'm free of cancer, and I stay on track with follow-up appointments.
Loving the life that I'm in.
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Looking for someone to talk to about your anal cancer diagnosis? We are here to help. The Peer to Peer Support Program is a free service provided by the Anal Cancer Foundation that matches anal cancer thrivers (our word for survivors) and caregivers with thriver volunteers and caregiver volunteers.