In 2018 I had blood in my stool. I saw a GI doc who did a colonoscopy. He said I was fine but had an anal fissure. I thought nothing of it because it gave me no other symptoms. It soon turned into what I thought was a small hemorrhoid. Fast forward to the 2nd half of 2020, I noticed things getting worse. My symptoms still aligned with what people complained about in regards to hemorrhoids (itching, discomfort, occasional blood) but I was honestly too embarrassed to find a new doctor and seek help.
February 2021 I couldn’t take it any longer. I went to my new PCP with a short list of health items to catch up on. She did an exam and there was an audible gasp but she didn’t give me much info other than saying I needed to see a colorectal surgeon. I was booked the next weekday for a consult and walked in hoping to get my 'hemorrhoid' removed. He did an exam and then he sat down and was very quiet. He looked me squarely in the face and said 'I am almost 100% certain you have anal cancer.' A biopsy confirmed this diagnosis the following day. Stage 2 anal cancer, at 43 years of age. At first I was going to keep this journey private, until the pathology came back that my cancer was caused by HPV.
HPV. A virus that most of us have been or will be exposed to caused my cancer. HPV. A virus preventable with a vaccine which meant the cancer was also preventable. Why weren’t more people talking about this? Preventable cancer! I knew I had to start talking. I quickly started my Facebook page ‘Megg’s Fight’ and an Instagram page ‘Meggsfight2021’ to help spread facts, data, and take out the stigma of HPV and related cancers.
6 weeks of Radiation and 2 rounds of 96hr Chemotherapy began in March and it was certainly the roughest time of my entire life. I chronicled my experience on meggsfight.com and the support from family, friends, and my community was tremendous!
I wasn’t feeling like myself until late summer and was finally told I was cancer-free in August. Treatment for anal cancer is no joke but very effective if caught early! So happy to have overcome so much and be a thriver. I value the time I have been given and am proud to share my story.
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.