Ellen’s Fight Against Colon Cancer Story
Cancer is just a word, until it affects you or someone you love. Who knew six letters could completely turn your world upside down. Ellen, who is fighting stage four colon cancer, shared her experience when she was diagnosed. “The doctors did their best to prepare me for my diagnosis. When they took biopsy samples from my colonoscopy, cancer was mentioned as a possibility but not the number one suspect. But when the results came back and the internal medicine doctor came into my room with a nurse in tow, I already knew. But I had to hear it. It’s like running into a wall that you didn’t even know was there. Shock, disbelief, confusion. You want to ask them to check the results. Are you REALLY sure? And then they walk out of the room. So, what do I do now?”
The question Ellen asked herself is one that many cancer patients ask. What do you do and where do you go? Treatment. Treatment is the first step when fighting this disease, and Ellen shared with us some of her experience with treatment. “I feel that I’ve been very lucky because the treatment hasn’t taken a terrible toll on me. I’m getting a 46 hour drip every two weeks and I’ve had to do in-patient chemo at the hospital. The side effects have been mild so far, mostly just exhaustion, but I’m learning to dread chemotherapy because I’m trapped in a cage for 3 days,” she said.
As with every journey, there are tough battles, hard journeys, and difficult decisions. Ellen told us,” The hardest thing is staying out of my own head. It’s too easy to get overwhelmed and to get depressed. And it’s hard to live in the moment, live for a future that is completely unknown. Everything is changed. There is no comfort zone bubble to retreat to. My lifestyle has flipped a 180 degrees. How do I maintain the active, adventurous life I had when every 14 days I lose 3-4 days to chemotherapy and recovery? Not to mention the follow up appointments, the physical limitations, and the financial stress.
So, when going through a life altering experience like cancer, how do you stay positive? How do you pick yourself up? Ellen shared with us some of her inspiration and experience from her journey so far,” Even before I got my diagnosis, one of my favorite lines from a song by Lorn Huron is ‘What good is living the life you’ve been given if all you do is stand in one place?’ Recently, in my head, I often hear the quote from Shawshank Redemption “I guess it comes down to a simple choice really. Get busy living or get busy dying.”
For the first month or so, my life completely shut down. I didn’t know what I was capable or even allowed to do. I second guessed every activity, even driving my own car or going to the grocery store. But that is so far outside of my personality that I was driving myself stir crazy. So I decided to get busy living. I haven’t jumped back into life with the same reckless abandon, but I had my first weekend out of town.”
Learning to live with and fight cancer can take time, but like Ellen, you can do it. This is a big change, but with a support system and determination, cancer is just a six letter word. It can’t control you, you’re in control.