I fought a battle that I hope and pray most people will never have to fight. All the signs were there and when those three little words were spoken I was not surprised. “It is cancer” - who would have thought it would change your world completely.
I was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer and was given 2 months to live. Cancer had completely blocked my colon, gone through my colon and was intertwined all through my intestines, up my tail-bone and into my ovaries. They opened me up and found that nothing could be removed because of the mass of it all. They removed my ovaries, gave me an ileostomy and sent me for intravenous chemotherapy. After I recovered from my initial surgery, I would then go on to do 2 months of radiation and oral chemo and then a final surgery 8 months later to reverse my ileostomy.
All the books say to cry when you hear you have cancer and I would have thought that would have been my reaction, but there is much to be said about the power of positive thinking, added with a large dose of sense of humor. I did not allow myself the time or place to give in to negative thinking and whenever any friends, family members or doctors mentioned anything about my cancer I would contradict their statements indicating that the cancer was not there. I will never forget my doctor telling me while in the hospital during my last operation to reverse my ileostomy that we would have to wait for the pathology to come back on the resected colon and if there is cancer there then there would probably be more chemo. I immediately told him that there would not be any cancer there. His words were “so you have been telling me” As my husband said - Susan has cancer, but it just hasn’t dawned on her yet.
When you go through life-threatening experiences, you make many promises just so that you can live and my promise was to help others going through cancer and to try and make changes to battle this disease. I became a cancer coach for the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada, I mentored many patients on my choices after being diagnosed, and I am soon to publish a book about my journey, although I am not a writer.
We have become a society of crisis intervention rather than of prevention and we need to take steps to prevent illness in the first place. Doctors work with the sick and not the healthy, we scan after the illness presents itself instead of pre-screening to catch the disease in its early stages, and we look and pay for cures for illnesses rather than applying those funds to preventing the disease. More physicians should be trained in preventative medicine and nutrition and there should be required nutrition classes in schools starting at an early age. Children should be allowed to have a bottle of water at their desks and be taught to appreciate the benefits of water and proper nutrition. How many people would be spared the tragedy of cancer and other life-threatening diseases if the majority of money donated could go to prevention, pre-screening and to educating people about the benefits of proper nutrition?
I followed a lifestyle conducive to cancer; I “was” a smoker and I enjoyed a high-fat, high protein, low fiber diet and I drank very little water and cancer hit me hard. Armed with trust in my doctors, a positive attitude, prayers from the community, the help of good friends and family, a balance of holistic and traditional medicines and a change in diet I survived and was cured. That was 12 years ago, in April 2006.
I suspect we know enough about cancer, diabetes, and heart disease to understand that proper nutrition can make a huge difference in controlling these life-threatening diseases. So my question is, have we made appropriate changes to our lifestyles to prevent these diseases and can we make a difference in our very own community. If nothing else than to provide support and someone to talk to when the news hits like a ton of bricks.
Although the journey was not an easy one there are days I question why it was that I was spared and I truly believe that it was to give others hope, to share my experience and to let people know that miracles really do happen every day – some days we just have to look a little harder for them.