This is a post that I repeat every St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe when I get around to finding a new picture for my colostomy bag, I’ll change the post. Until then, it is still ever so fitting.
This photo was taken in March 2010 – halfway through my last six months of chemo. For any of my non-Irish friends, Craic is a Gaelic word and the best English translation is – fun, good times or entertaining. I blogged about my experience from the very beginning, so everyone had real-time information and updates. That was my first experience with being an advocate and spreading awareness. I had always hoped that if I shared my story enough, someone would recognize their symptoms and get diagnosed early. If caught in the early stages, colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable, beatable, and most certainly curable.
This is one of my favorite pictures. Yes – chemo was hard. Yes – learning to live with a colostomy bag was new. Yes – radiation had taken its toll on my body. Yes – I was beginning to understand that some of these side effects were never going away. But seriously – what leprechaun would not find humor in a colostomy bag!
Being diagnosed at 32 was so odd. A 32-year old mother diagnosed with stage III colorectal cancer? So odd that the newspaper was interested in my story and I was interviewed by our local television station. The only other people my age with this diagnosis I met online and finally face-to-face at my first advocacy event.
I initially shared my story hoping to prevent at least one person from going through the same experience. Now, I share my story with even more passion, because I know that colorectal cancer is no longer an “old man’s” disease and younger and younger people are at a higher risk of colon and rectal cancers than ever before. Our children will be screened at 22 for colorectal cancer because of my history. I feel like singing the Schoolhouse Rock song – knowledge is power!