589 Days

I had a cancerous tumor in my body for 589 days, that I know of. I know it was there longer, but to my knowledge, the tumor existed in my body from the day I was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer on 2/26/2018 until 10/9/2019 when the metastasized tumor was removed after it moved from my colon to my stomach.

From the time I was diagnosed, I was told that I had eighteen to twenty four months to live. I told the oncologist when she told me that, I think I said something like ‘OK. Well, we’ll see.’ I was rarely negative about the diagnosis. I decided that remaining positive about my life was easier to deal with than being a negative person all the time.

I looked at the world with a different lens. When I go into the bank, or the store, I try to get to know the people who are helping me. I almost always greet them by name. I decided to be the positive stage 4 colon cancer guy.

When I would go in for routine, occasional, PET scans, I would see the same technician, Jay. He told me once that I was the most positive stage 4 colon cancer patient he had ever met. I took that as a compliment.

I rarely passed up an opportunity, either standing in line at the grocery store, or wherever, to tell people about my diagnosis. Not because I was looking for sympathy, but because I was trying to make people aware that colon cancer can strike anyone. I convinced the guy who owns my favorite Italian restauant to go in and get a colonoscopy. The colonoscopy wasn’t what found my tumor, because of where it was located, but it would and will find it in most people if they have the cancer.

I made several mistakes along the way. I told my kids that I was going in to find out if I had an expiration date when I was going in to get my diagnosis. To me, it was humorous. To them, not so much. When I first got home from the first colon cancer surgery, I felt great. We had just moved from Bothell to Edmonds, and so I took it upon myself to rearrange my home office. Heavy furniture and all. Wasn’t the smartest move.

On October 9th of this year, I had another surgery. That oncology surgeon removed the cancerous tumor from my stomach. He also removed a mass that may or may not have been a lymph node and may or may not have been cancerous.

I was in the hospital for a week, recovery and learning to poop again.

On the 17th of October, I came home from the hospital to recover there. So far, so good. I can’t lift over twenty pounds until mid December. Initially, I was not going to be able to drive for two weeks, but those restrictions were thankfully lifted fairly soon after being put in place.

I work from home. So I answer email, and I answer phone calls, just like I normally would, if not a bit slower than normal.

I met with the oncology surgeon today, the 28th of October. He’s pleased with my progress. He removed the staples that had been in place and I meet with him again in a week.

I meet with my oncologist on November 11th. I hope to stay cancer free for a while. I know there is a chance it will come back, but in the meantime, I plan on living life.

Get your colonoscopies. Get your blood work done. Your life depends on it. It saved mine, for now. I’d like to think I can encourage one or two people to do the same. You are important. You may not think you are, but you are. Even if life seems difficult right now, it could ALWAYS be much worse.

I couldn’t have recovered as well without the love and support of my parents, my wife, my inlaws and my kids. And my granddaughter, whom I’ve been able to see a few times since coming home.

Thank you all.