Eight days after my 16th birthday, I was diagnosed with colon cancer.
I knew something was wrong in the summer of 1987 when I found blood in my
underwear. My mother later discovered when she was doing laundry. She drove to
my school and took me straight to the doctor. The doctor sent us to the
hospital right away so they could perform tests.
The news was horrible. The doctors told my parents that even with radiation
and chemotherapy I probably wouldn't live until Christmas, three months away.
But I had the surgery on Sept. 21 anyway, 12 long hours of it, and me waking in
the middle, too! The doctors went in, got the tumor at the end of my colon and
couldn't find any of the other expected cancer agents.
After the surgery the doctors took more tests, and these came back with very
different results. I didn't need radiation or chemotherapy, my doctors said,
because the rest of the cancer had vanished. I was now known as the Miracle
Because the tumor destroyed the muscle near my rectum I had to have a
colostomy, where doctors remove some of your colon and create an opening in
your abdomen, from which you drain your stool.
Because of this, my only real concern after surgery was if I would ever find
a woman who would love me with this condition and who would also want children
with me. Over the years I've discovered some women care and others don't.
My advice to everyone is to please take better care of yourself. Not just by
eating right or avoiding smoking, but by going to your doctor on a regular
basis. Going regularly gives you time to discover early if there's something
wrong so your doctor can help before it becomes a serious problem, as it did in
I recently went to the doctor who performed my surgery -- after not seeing
him for many years -- and got myself checked, just to be on the safe side. He
ran some tests, with the results that my health is perfect! I have nothing to
worry about, but I know I must keep going back for those check-ups.
I told my doctor that after he retires he has to find me a doctor I can
trust as much as I trust him! I just want to finish this story by saying,
thanks, Doc, for everything. For giving me the chance to experience life.
I owe you more than you will ever know.