Video credit: survivornet
My name is Lillian Kreppel. I am a go-getter, resourceful, fun, and funny—and I love life. I also love to meet interesting people, encounter different cultures, and to travel. I am very inquisitive, curious, interested, and a good listener. I am a people person and am unanimously positive and like to help others. I live in New York City and love to take advantage of all it has to offer. Because of what I went through with my cancer, I am on a mission to educate the masses and to save lives. Here is my story.
In the summer of 2017, after having persistent symptoms of what I thought was a hemorrhoid, itching and blood, I saw my gynecologist. I had my cervical pap and digital rectal exam in which my doctor stated that I was fine. I knew I was not fine because I felt something (a bump) and I had consistent blood in my stool on a daily basis. I then saw my gastroenterologist who did a digital rectal and anosocopy, and said I needed to get a sigmoidoscopy right away. He knew something was wrong. After my sigmoidoscopy, I found out that I had stage 2 anal cancer. I literally told the doctor that I did not have time for this cancer and what do we do next.
The next few weeks included a litany of tests, from pet scans to cat scans and more. I then had to endure radiation and oral chemotherapy for 6 weeks. I was treated at a hospital here in NYC, which went very well. My doctors were incredible, and the entire staff could not have been better. I never got sick from the medications and I did pretty well, although it did get tough the last 3 weeks of the treatment and I had to use painkillers to get me through.
During my "journey", I learned so much and realized that I have a lot of information to impart to the masses. I must say, without sounding braggadocious, that I was the most positive patient ever. I was always happy and smiley, (as I normally am) and was told what a big help I was to the other cancer patients in the waiting room. I have had several events in NYC, promoting HPV awareness and the importance of the vaccine, and I KNOW that I have already saved a few lives. At my big party I had last April, one of the doctors commented, “She was so positive and had such a great attitude; did she even know she had cancer?” Obviously, he was being funny, but, I truly was the “poster child” during this entire process!
In addition to being a FORCE, I have an army of people that I know and refer to, from my gyn-oncologist to my gastroenterologist, to other medical professionals. I myself just got the vaccine at 54! I am telling you, and you probably already know this, people do not know enough about how bad HPV can be, and they certainly do not know about anal cancer-I was shocked myself. Not only does the general public not know enough about HPV and cancer, but the doctors do not know enough.
One of the ways you can help yourself is to be aware that what feels like a hemorrhoid, and if it persists, that it might not be. Go to a doctor! It could be a tumor like the one I had. Do not self-diagnose or wait!
Another way is to make sure your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc., all get the HPV vaccine between the ages of 10 and 12 years old. The type of cancer I had also occurs in the head, neck, and throat area, so if you or someone else has a bump on the neck or feels something in the throat, again, do not self-diagnose or wait! Go to the doctor! HPV is a skin virus that nearly all people will have at some point in their lifetime. In addition to cervical cancer, the virus can cause anal cancer and at least four other cancers.
My hospital told me that the story I wrote for them garnered the MOST clicks ever in their website’s history. As a result, they now have brought attention to this type of cancer through their online presence, something they were unable to do before. I am very proud of this, as my entire mission is to help educate people and save lives.
Learn more about Lillian's story at survivornet.
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.