Before answering that question, we need to define what a cancer survivor actually is, According to Wikipedia, a cancer survivor is someone who:
- has completed initial cancer management and has no apparent evidence of active disease;
- is living with progressive disease and may be receiving cancer treatment, but is not in the terminal phases of illness; or
- has had cancer in the past.
In 2011, I had been a cancer survivor for 4 years … and didn’t even realize it. Let me explain.
In 2007, I was having some pains in my right side that after 7 months of testing and other procedures actually ending up being a bad gall bladder that had to be removed after a severe case of pacreatitis. But before we reached that conclusion, I had my first colonoscopy at the ripe old age of 53.
In the midst of that colonoscopy the doctor encountered a polyp that was too large to be removed in the procedure. The biopsy came back as precancerous which was good news. The bad news is to remove the polyp, they would have to remove the section of colon where the polyp was and then reconnect the colon … my procedure would be a sigmoid colectomy. Unfortunately (how’s this for timing?) my wife was having her gall bladder removed the next week so we had to schedule my procedure four weeks out.
So four weeks later, I went through the procedure and spent 8 days in the hospital recovering. But by the time they had removed the section of colon, the polyp had become cancerous. Tests after surgery at the time confirmed they had gotten all the cancer. At that point in 2007 … nearly five years ago … I officially became a cancer survivor (according to the first definition above) … but didn’t realize it until 2011 in the midst of a conversation with my surgeon.
So in the summer of 2011 more problems with the colon and head back to surgery for another sigmoid colectomy … only this time when he opened me up he found a cancerous mass … most of which he removed during surgery. Unfortunately it didn’t make sense to reconnect the colon so I came out of that surgery with a colostomy. Not only was the cancer on the colon but several cancerous lung nodules also were found on my right lung … diagnosis … incurable Stage IV metastatic colon cancer.
So ten months later … I continue to be a cancer survivor … only now under definition two above. After 8 months of chemo there continues to be no growth in the cancer.
Surviving and thriving 5 years and counting …
Thank you Jesus!