I’m Michelle

When I was 53 yrs. old, I found out I had stage IV colon/rectal cancer. I was the mother of four sons and a Grandma to my oldest grandson, who was only 2 ½ months old. All I remember from that day was the word “cancer”. I was by myself when I found out. I walked out of the exam room stunned; already having to schedule an appointment to see an oncologist. It would be the first of many oncology appointments. While they were scheduling the referral, I started making calls to my children, sister, best friend and work. I was working as an RN and I knew from my own experience, just how bad it could be. I hoped for the best, but prepared for the worst. Five days later, meeting an oncologist for the first time, I found out it was the “worst”. Praise God I was with my son and I wasn’t alone when I found out. I thought of my new grandson. I decided that, with God’s mercy, grace and strength, I would fight hard. He is the biggest part of my story.

Everything started to happen so fast at that point. X-rays, CT scans, biopsies, power-port placement, chemotherapy and radiation. I’ve had colon reconstruction with a permanent colostomy placed, three lung resections, heart surgery, a stroke, two liver surgeries and gall-bladder removal. After my second liver surgery, my incision site separated. It had been less than a week since I had been discharged from the hospital. I had gone septic and readmitted for the infection. I had numerous months of home health. I also needed six-weeks of hyperbaric chambers to help in the healing process! A day before my second lung resection was scheduled, I needed emergency small bowel obstruction surgery.

I have faith in God but it took me two years to remember that I needed to be thankful for my cancer. So much peace came over me as I remembered to be thankful. I thanked God for my cancer, pain, neuropathy, osteopenia, colostomy, nausea, mild hair loss, rashes, peeling skin, loss of nails, scars, insomnia, surgeries, biopsies, broken relationships, loss of friends, loss of family support and fistula. I now know that I will be on chemotherapy for the rest of my life with CT scans scheduled every three months. I remembered that God has shown me so much mercy on my cancer journey. My life may have been shortened but I live with very little pain (experienced during my recovery time after a surgery). I’m on three different chemotherapies and only one is starting to cause bone pain briefly during my infusion! I take pain medication only once during that infusion.

Thanks to God, I’m now 58 yrs. old and have two grandsons! I was blessed to be the one who babysat my oldest grandson while my next grandchild was being born! What joy it is to be a grandmother! I know now what needs to be cherished during this life. It’s not a title, what you own, where you live, how much money you have, or who you may know. It’s God, faith, forgiveness, acceptance, love, joy, family, friends and safety.