Patience and Persistence Saved My Life: An Unwelcome but Welcome Journey

Patience and Persistence Saved My Life: An Unwelcome but Welcome Journey

My journey actually started in 2012 when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

There’s the ups and downs with that of course, but the one down for me that was consistent was my bowels. I was told that at birth, chronic diarrhea almost killed me, and learning that having MS, I can have both diarrhea and constipation, didn’t seem unusual. Well, a few years later, that had all changed.

In 2015 I had a terrible bout of bloating and bowel issues. I was sent for a colonoscopy and was told I had a few polyps, but nothing to worry about. I was given medication for ulcers and sent home. Most people don’t start getting this procedure until they’re at least 50, unless there is a history of problems in the family. I was 47 with no family history, that I knew of. I had several colonoscopies with nothing major to report.

At this time, I realized I needed to be my own best advocate and started researching my symptoms.

Carla Anderson

I consistently told my doctor of my issues and I was repeatedly told nothing was found.

I don’t recall where I found information that was different than I was being told, but when I did, I asked my doctor to try something else. I think she got tired of my complaints and sent me to a gastrologist. That was the appointment that saved my life. It took two years to get to that point. The gastrologist wanted her own test results, so another colonoscopy was ordered. She found a tumor.

Things wont be perfect, but the wont be bad all the time

The doctor tattooed the tumor and took a picture to show me. When she returned to the recovery room, I was told with urgency that I had a tumor and it had to be removed quickly. She showed me the picture and my heart beat out of my chest. I was given the number of a surgeon and told to call ASAP. I made the call and got in right away for surgery. I woke up to find out I had stage one colon cancer, a foot of my colon had been removed, and I would require no further treatment. This happened in 2017, from a diagnosis to surgery, in one week.

Recovery was hard and long.

I had days I felt I had strength to move and days I couldn’t do anything. I needed help for everything and that was humiliating. There’s nothing more humiliating that needing help to the bathroom. I couldn’t laugh, I couldn’t cry, either option produced unpleasant results. Then the staples started leaking! What a mess that was. When I made it back to my primary doctor, she was excited and shouted “We caught it!” I said what I was thinking out loud. “Actually, I caught it.”

Recovery was hard
Carla Anderson

The happiest part of this mess was when I got the staples removed. I didn’t know it would hurt that bad and almost jumped off the table. The surgeon had a good laugh at my expense. He would try to tell a joke, then when I laughed, he’d remove a staple. At last this painful part was coming to an end. But it was not the end of my journey.

These days, I have this nice scar to keep me humble and let me know life is a gift to be shared.

I tell my story through my blogs and social media. They’re brutally honest and I don’t mind being an open book. I tell women they need to be more proactive about their health care. Never let a doctor dismiss what you are feeling. You know your body and you know what feels right and wrong. Be persistent, if you feel you aren’t being heard, go someplace where you will be heard. Have someone go with you to your appointments, they can ask the questions you don’t think of. Know that a doctor will probably treat you differently because you’re a woman and be ready to stand strong.

I have this nice scar to keep me humble and let me know life is a gift to be shared.

There are many things one can pass on to others and one is we only get this one big gift of life.

  • Things won’t be perfect all the time, but they won’t be bad all the time.
  • Sometimes a catastrophic illness forces us to be stronger than we think we are.
  • Cancer doesn’t discriminate, but medical care sometimes does.
  • Ask questions no matter how goofy they may seem to you.
  • Ask questions no matter how embarrassing they are.
  • Trust that the doctor has heard them all before.
  • Do your research on your surgeon, it’s ok to know if they are in good standing at the hospital where you will have the procedure. The hospital and the surgeon have all the information on you, including the names of your children, so a quick search to see if you’re getting a good surgeon is the least you can do.

If you are on social media, create a small group of people you respect and trust and have someone you trust be co administrator to keep the group informed.

My group consisted of a few of my grade school friends and people I had come to know when my son started grade school. The only family in the group was my son because he couldn’t get away from work.  Remember, not all friends are meant to go on all journeys with you. Most people I know didn’t know what I had gone through until I started writing about it in my blog, so don’t beat yourself up about excluding some people from your group. This group will become your personal sacred circle and it will be so refreshing to you.

Finally, try not to stop living your life. Sometimes, a cancer diagnosis makes us see the petty things don’t really matter. This is where you stand up and make that unwelcome journey YOUR welcome journey to a healthy and more positive you.

Spread your sunshine!

Further reading

The Light at the End of the Cancer Tunnel: A Personal Story of Recovery

Sharing My Story Of Colon Cancer

How To Choose Thoughtful And Appropriate Gifts For Cancer Patients

The Strength Within: How I Overcame Cancer Three Times

Helping A Friend With Cancer: What You Need to Know

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