I am looking forward to participating in my first Relay for Life event this June in Chatham Ont. When I walk around the track it won’t be in memory of a loved one, or in support of a friend; I’ll be walking as a way of giving something back to the Canadian Cancer Society.
On Dec. 14, 2009, I was diagnosed with stage four incurable colon cancer. I am only 39. I am too young for this. Since being diagnosed, “it’s been a whirlwind, and I’ve basically decided I’m going to bring awareness to colon cancer and Relay for Life.”
Since my diagnosis, I’ve been overwhelmed at the support from friends and family and the tremendous outreach from everyone even strangers. Being at the receiving end of such an outpouring is unusual for me. “I’m the caregiver,” “I take care of everybody else.” I’ve been told I have two years to live, with statistics indicating only an eight percent chance of surviving for five years, but that is forcing me to remain upbeat. Without chemotherapy, my prognosis was nine months to a year, so I chose the chemo. Four weeks into it, I am feeling better than I had expected to and am determined to deal with whatever comes my way. “I had the pity parties for the first couple of weeks,” “But now I just go back into life mode, because that’s all I know .” I was a workaholic, now I am focusing that energy on my cancer battle Because of my age, the prospect of colon cancer was far from my mind, when I began to experience cramping and other symptoms only a month before I was diagnosed. “I was just days away from exploding in septic shock,” Two hours after my diagnosis, I underwent surgery to remove the mass, but by then, the cancer had metastasized to my liver. Colonoscopies, which are used to detect cancer, are routine for patients over 50, but we all need to realize the disease can affect those far younger. “It’s up to us to be our own advocates and get tested,” I understand why people don’t think about such things. “We don’t because we’re just too darned busy with life â€“ me included â€“ and we don’t want to think about the bad stuff.” But, when it comes down to the difference between booking a day off of work to do the testing or having to tell your parents you have two years to live, it’s an easy decision to make. Because colon cancer can run in families, my brother has already been tested and my sister has an appointment booked.
Family and friends are offering me support for the Relay for Life team, Earth Angels and I hope to raise a lot of money for the Cancer Society. we the team are all fundraising selling chocolate bars and other fundraisers and asking people to help us all raise money in the relay walk . Joining the relay has given me something positive to focus on. “I’ve always been too busy,” “but now that I’m on the receiving end of the love, support, cards and attention and people being there â€“ absolute strangers â€“ I’m just overwhelmed.” My reason for joining the relay is simple: “I’m relaying because I want to pay those people back and help find a cure .” My life plan had been to work hard and retire early. “Now I’m retiring early, but on different terms,” “I’m trying to find a balance between what I have to do, what I need to do and what I really want to do.” What I have to do at the moment is plan my life around medical appointments, but I am also doing some of the want to do’s as well. “I like to garden,””and I’m really enjoy spending time with Rick and my dog CJ .” The dream, is to get to the islands of Bora Bora some day , but until then, I will be content with raising awareness of the need for screening and working towards the Relay for Life. And, I encourage everyone to do something they want to do, including joining a relay team or a foundation that has affected them personally. “There’s no guarantee for any of us,” “We could be hit by a bus tomorrow.” Team Earth Angels can be found at www.relayforlife.ca. Please help out and show your support for this great cause.