Hope And The Stage IV Diagnosis

by Jane Ashley

Every cancer patient remembers the day of diagnosis. I refer to that day as “the day time stood still.” The common thread for every story is the deep, gut-wrenching fear that grips you. Some people cry while others sit quietly. Everyone tries to understand the enormity of what they’ve just heard.

Hope And The Stage Iv Diagnosis

Rectal bleeding prompted my referral to a colorectal surgeon. A colonoscopy confirmed I had rectal cancer. The surgeon scheduled chest, abdomen, and pelvic CT scans along with a rectal MRI and told us he’d see us at his office in two weeks

Oct. 2, 2014, was a beautiful day. We arrived at my surgeon’s office. He was cordial as he greeted us. He sat quietly and said, “I’ll just cut to the chase. Your cancer has spread to your lungs. The MRI shows lymph node involvement, and the fatty tissue behind your rectum contains clusters of cancer cells.” I had Stage IV rectal cancer.

He told me I had two choices: Call hospice or fight.

Giving up without a fight was not in my DNA so I told him I’d fight. Together, we chose what seemed to be the best oncology group for me. Another wait of about 10 days for that appointment.

Jane What Next Photo

JaneA, WhatNexter, Author, and Stage IV Colon Cancer Survivor

I was sure I would die. Could I work? How would we pay the copays without my working? Would I be able to endure the chemo? Was I brave enough to face the surgery? How sick would the chemo make me? Would I have to have a colostomy? A thousand questions twisted around in my brain like a tornado.

Related Article - SandiA Beating Stage IV Melanoma Against the Odds

Appointment day finally came, and we met the oncologist. It was Friday afternoon. She seemed relaxed as she sat down to talk to us. At my husband’s suggestion, I took a copy of the scans with me to the appointment. She excused herself to review my scans and returned with an optimistic look on her face.

Jane During Treatment Wig

Jane During Treatments

She believed aggressive chemo and aggressive surgery may cure me. From that moment on, I held on to the hope she gave me. My mindset changed in her office. I mentally prepared myself for the unknown. I would endure the side effects the chemo caused. I would try to be brave. We would live one day at the time. Paraphrasing the words of Leo Buscaglia, worrying about tomorrow robs you of today’s joy.

A sense of calmness replaced the fear. I began potentially curative treatment.

Three and a half years later, I remain NED (no evidence of disease).

Don’t despair if you have been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer . There are always survivors of a dire diagnosis. Why can’t it be you?

Related Article - Buckeye Shelby, An Inspiring Stage IV Patient That Beat the Odds

You are unique. Your overall health, your willingness to tolerate potentially curative treatments, and your will to be proactive for yourself influence your outcome.

Find an oncologist who believes they can help you. Never underestimate the power of a second opinion. Opinions are based on a doctor’s experience. A highly-experienced liver or pulmonary surgeon’s opinion differs from the opinion of a general surgeon. Interventional radiologists offer new, less invasive treatment options.

Strong Arm Crc

Jane Feeling Strong After Treatment

The power of hope provides the strength you need to face a daunting diagnosis. Against all odds, you might be among those who survive.

Jane was diagnosed with Stage IV rectal cancer in October 2014. She lives in Middle Georgia along with her husband. She enjoys photography, walking, gardening, and cooking. She has been active in dog rescue and currently cares for a small group of feral cats.
After completing her cancer treatment, she wrote a book for cancer warriors to help encourage them through the daunting twists and turns of cancer treatment. She is working on her second book. You can also take a look at her profile at WhatNext Here.

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