My husband, Dick, and I were devastated when we learned that I have Stage IV colon cancer. It seemed to have come from out of the blue. Other than being just over 50, I didn't fit the colon cancer risk profile.
I wasn't one for going to the doctor, but as I struggled with incredible fatigue I finally acquiesced and went to an OBGYN, figuring at 52 it had to be hormonal. I never imagined within a week of that office visit, I'd be starting the journey of battling cancer.
While my doctor did a great job helping me understand my diagnosis and prognosis, like many people newly diagnosed with a terminal or chronic illness, I scoured the Internet to learn as much as I could as fast as I could. I tried my best to stay off the blogs and only read the facts, but they were daunting: the second leading cancer for deaths; only 6% of stage IV patients live 5 years, etc.
The reality that life isn’t forever—and that mine may be shorter than most—hasn’t been easy to swallow, but Dick and I have come to appreciate each other, our family and friends more than ever and count each new day as a blessing.
Today, there is no cure for advanced stage colon cancer. In fact, each year colon cancer takes the lives of over 50,000 people. My fate and the fate of the over 140,000 people diagnosed each year is dependent on the progress of medical research.
I have been fortunate enough to be beating the odds so far and have been overwhelmed by the support and care we have receiving - so much so that we feel compelled to make a difference in the fight against colon cancer and focus on the possibility of new discoveries.
To that end, we have partnered with the University of Minnesota Foundation to create a fund dedicated to advance the knowledge around the treatment of colon cancer to improve the quality of life and outcomes for people battling the disease. We will direct 100% of the money we raise to research at the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota and are excited about the potential for new discovery.
Please join me on our journey in the fight against colon cancer.