Hello, my name is Marie and I was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2016. I was 66 years old and I was in great shape: an avid runner, I always followed a healthy diet.

I was experiencing pain and bleeding for about one year but I thought it was just hemorrhoids. I went to a oncology surgeon who initially told me it was nothing and sent me away telling me to take a fiber drink. The pain didn't go away and I returned to the doctor who did another rectal exam, and that's when he felt something. He scheduled me for a biopsy and I was upset at the time because he didn't list that he would remove my hemorrhoids.

I also had signed up for a 8 mile race that was coming up so I asked him if we could wait - that's when he got angry at me and said, no this has to be done ASAP. We did a biopsy and it came back positive for HPV-associated anal cancer.

When the doctor told me I had cancer (stage 2 squamous cell carcinoma) I felt like I wasn't hearing him right. Well, things after that happened so fast, first seeing the hematologist and then the oncologist. I had 6 weeks of chemo and radiation and got so sick, and my bottom was so sore I could hardly sit down. Once my treatment ended and I went back to running, the treatment had affected my bones to the point that I ended up with stress fractures to my femur head and both sides of the back of my pelvis. I have also developed multiple clots, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism in both lungs.

It's been almost 2 1/2 years and my white blood cell count is still low and I suffer from pelvic radiation disease. If you don't know what it is please read about it.

I'm still not back to my old self, and I constantly worry about my cancer returning. I take life one day at a time now.

Read about the differences between anal cancer and hemorrhoids.

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.

Button with text reading "Register for the P2P Program"