Posts tagged ‘colonoscopy’

#colondarreunion

If you would have told me that in my lifetime I would join a group of people that come from all over the country, of varying ages, with different family backgrounds, opposing political views, contrasting views on religion, and even very different ethnicity, life experiences and definitions of “fun,”  – and then told me that after spending a weekend with this group I’d be mildly-depressed after heading home and separating from these people, I might have not believed you.

But that indeed is what’s happened.

Modeling for the 2009 Colondar was an experience that changed my life. At the risk of sounding too cliche and cheesy, it really, really did. But the amazing thing is that I didn’t even realize it at the time. I walked into the home of the McMaster’s in May 0f 2008 as a 7-year cancer survivor. Sure, I’d been diagnosed when I was 17 and had a crazy story to tell, but I was kind of “over it.” I was excited at the opportunity to participate in the calendar, but strived all week to relate to the other 11 people who were sharing their stories of surgeries, treatments, post-treatment, emotional issues, family issues and the other myriad of problems that come with colon cancer. I could relate, but only to a point. I had been diagnosed so young and was so far removed from it. I took it all in that weekend and went home a little shell-shocked. It’s like a door that had been closed was suddenly reopened, and I was faced with thinking about my cancer once again.

I wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad thing until in Dec. of 08 when a routine colonoscopy found those little annoying polyps growing once again. You know the story… surgery, second diagnosis, genetic testing…. the past year of my life. While it’s been no cake walk to walk through cancer once again, this experience has been different this time thanks to my experience with the Colondar, and my several little “colon angels” who’ve helped me through this process.

Jon, Mr. February, was there from the start and has been my coach through it all. He also has had the same procedure I had and lives with an “itty bitty” colon. He helped me before, during and after surgery, and still keeps tabs on me to this day, encouraging me that what I still face a year later is normal. Trish, Miss March and Karen, Miss December, have been two pillars of inspiration as they too faced another diagnosis of cancer since we met in 2008, both of breast cancer. To see them gracefully battle and make it through another cancer (and still find times to laugh!) has also given me the strength to keep going. Libby, Miss January, has been my best buddy through this all and such a dear friend. She’s my roommate and my girlfriend who’s in my same age range, and been such a blessing to have as we figure out how to live as 20-something colon cancer survivors. And Erika, the yearly cover girl, means so much to me I can’t even explain. We were diagnosed only a few months from each other, her at age 22 and me at age 17, in 2001. We’re two people who really “know” what it was, and is, like for one another and strangely enough continue to be in sync with the different seasons and issues of cancer we face. And these are only a few of them. I’m daily inspired by my other ’09 buds: new-mom Allison, Doug, Jaimie (the guy lives with a J-pouch!) Greg & Todd (stage 4 survivors!), Shaye and Terri – they are all so near and dear to me.

The Colondar network has been a life-saver and a game-changer for me. That’s why this past weekend when the first-ever Colondar Models Reunion was planned, I knew I had to go no matter the time, location nor sacrifice. And I am so thankful I did. I met up with several old friends, and made many new ones as I was introduced to Karen from ’06, Dean from ’07, Becca from’08 and Evelyn from ’10. I spent time in Vermont all week with the former models, and then traveled to Lake George in upstate New York once again to meet up with the Colon Club crew that was working the shoot, as well as the new host of 2011 models.

I had an absolutely amazing and incredible time. Taking in the beauty of Vermont while spending time among people who really “get it” when it comes to life as a colon cancer survivor was exactly what I’ve needed to help heal my heart and fight the emotional battle with cancer. It helped me realize how much of my day-to-day still revolves around the fact that I had colon cancer, and that while I might feel alone at home, I’m not alone completely in it in the world. It helped me take a much-needed step toward addressing the repressed feelings I’ve had about this second diagnosis and begin to work through them. It made me want to keep fighting off some of the negative pressures cancer puts on me, and gave me a support network of people who can relate and work through this with me. It brought out sadness and sorrow at our situation, yet hope and joy that we’d made it and that we’re together. It motivated me to keep going.

I’ve used many words to explain the significance of our group and the impact this past weekend had on my life. And while I could keep going on and on, I’ll let the pictures explain the rest. Thank you to all of my Colondar family for an unforgettable experience, and I cannot wait to see you all again…

June 15, 2010 at 11:06 pm 1 comment

Reasons #20 & #21 You Never Want Colon Cancer

Today’s two reasons are just cancer-specific. But hopefully they help give a small glimpse into the life of a survivor. No cancer is fun, and colon cancer tops that list (in my opinion.) And while I have learned to live with it and found many blessings that have come from it — it’s still not a disease I would wish upon anyone. As a mid-month message that will be repeated over and over — colon cancer is one of THE MOST preventable, treatable and beatable cancers out there. I’ll be the first in line to coach you through it if it indeed comes your way, but beg you to do whatever you can NOW to not see that day, especially if you’re over 50 and need a colonoscopy, or have a family history. Get your colons checked people!

Reason #20
Survivor’s Guilt

I’ve mentioned this before, but sometimes being a survivor is hard for reasons other than the obvious physical ones. As you watch and hear of others facing the disease and then losing their battles, unfortunate and inevitable guilt often hits. Not that you could have changed your course or theirs, but it’s definitely something to keep working through.

Reason #21
You’ll have the urge to start planning your funeral. (And all of the strange looks that follow when you start making requests.)

Not to be morbid or anything, but I often think about lining things up for my funeral, ya know, just in case. I know that it’s not guaranteed that I will go before anyone around me. But living through a major life-threatening disease (twice now) does open up your eyes to the reality that you won’t live forever. I’ve got a few songs that I’d like to be sung, and an idea of where I’d like proceeds to go. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to think of these things, but it does seem a little early for a 26-year-old to start making these plans.

March 21, 2010 at 10:32 pm Leave a comment

Reasons #8-11 You Never Want Colon Cancer

Oh blog readers, I am back. Sorry, crazy week. In light of the craziness, I have been reminded of some of the intricacies of being a colon cancer survivor. Here are a few that have impacted this week:

Reason #8
Everyone prefers to “use their own barn,” but you often don’t have that option.

And when you don’t, it’s so embarrassing. You see, most of us semicolons don’t have the purse or pocket space to carry around our own air freshener and we’d look like freaks, or terrorists, if we carried around a box full of matches.

Reason #9
As appetizing as the new fiber bars on the market look and smell, you’d better just stay away.

Dang you Kashi – you’ve got one that looks awesome too. But no matter how good you smell nor how cool your packaging works, there’s NO WAY I am even testing you out before a night away from home.

Reason #10
A heavy dose of stress works just like a bottle of MiraLax.

Some nights after a long day it’s like I’m preparing for a colonoscopy but without the day of fasting and scope in the morning.

Reason #11
Your dilemma: A healthy diet is full of fresh veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Some of your worst days are full of fresh veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

This one is still stumping me. I’m constantly fighting the balance of eating very healthy, whole, nutrient-full foods while keeping in mind those are often hardest on my colon. I am personally fortunate that I can still eat salads and other veggies that aren’t steamed given my situation. Many other semicolons don’t have it as fortunate.

March 12, 2010 at 4:57 pm Leave a comment

Reason #5 You Never Want Colon Cancer

Reason #5
You’ll be trying to convince everyone you know to get a colonoscopy for the rest of your life.

And let me tell you, this is NOT easy. Oh the excuses you’ll hear when you try to encourage those who divulge their personal health “issues” to you to go ahead and get scoped, much less those who are over age 50 and need it anyway. It’s almost easier to sell vacuums door to door. But the burden of knowing it’s importance on a personal level will be so heavy, you’ll do it anyway.

Side Note:
I’ll be doing this later today as I speak at a “National Dress in Blue Day” open house! Feel free to stop by if you’re in the area and say hello!
What: Open House for “National Dress in Blue Day”
Where: Midwest Gastroenterology, 3601 NE Ralph Powell Rd., Lees Summit, MO 64064
Time: 5-7pm (I’ll be speaking a little after 6pm)

March 5, 2010 at 12:43 pm Leave a comment

31 Reasons You Never Want Colon Cancer

Happy Colon Cancer Awareness Month! As a way to help bring even more awareness to the disease and why getting checked is so incredibly important, I’ve decided to dedicate every post in March to colon cancer awareness. But instead of telling you to get your colonoscopy, check your poop and know your family history, I thought I’d give you real, practical reasons about why you want to stay on top of your colon health.  Take it from me, prevent it while you can.

Reason #1
You’ll never save money on cheap toilet paper ever again.
Most colon cancer patients are sent into surgery to remove the section of colon containing the cancer. Once you’ve had part of your colon removed, your bathroom trips double, triple or more. After awhile, you get tired of the raw bum because the sandpaper stuff just isn’t cutting it. You’ll switch to the good stuff and never return again, saving your bum in the process but kissing your economical spending goodbye.

March 2, 2010 at 4:25 am Leave a comment

The Greatest Gift

Merry Christmas from the semi-colon blog!

It was a year ago Christmas Eve when I received the call that set the direction of this past year. The colonoscopy reports were in, docs were concerned, surgery was recommended. I remember trying to set aside the flood of emotions as I rejoined the family for the gift opening parade. I kept trying to brush it off as we sat in the ER later that evening until about 6 am while Mike recovered from food poisoning. It was like a ton of bricks had just hit us on what should have been the most wonderful day of the year.

I’ve been reflecting over last year’s Christmas a lot the past few days. Even with this Christmas – plans have gone awry. Our “White Christmas” has left us canceling family events and services, and we’re freezing cold in this old house. It makes me really re-think what this time of year is all about.

Growing up a church kid, I’ve always known Christmas was about Jesus’ birth. “The Reason for the Season” and “Christmas is about Christ” were ingrained in my head at an early age. But as I’ve grown and been influenced by culture and life’s situations, it’s really made me dig deeper into those common cliches and figure out what I really believe. Is Christmas still all about Christ when I’m told I have to have surgery again? Can there be joy as you’re sitting in the ER on Christmas morning? Is Jesus really the reason for the season when I cannot make it to my family’s gathering because it’s sleeting outside? Can I still celebrate even though I can’t eat all of the food?

I’ve learned this year that the only thing I need to do to celebrate Christmas is thank Jesus for what He’s done for me. I understand the temptation of skipping over God, or even cutting him out completely, all too well. But I’ve learned that it is not the way to cope with pain and suffering (although it seems reasonable at times.) Jesus offers us hope and love. He’s the source of all good things that have been, and all good things to come. I know the feeling of not wanting to believe because your days are so dark, how could you trust a God that allowed it. And while that’s another post in itself, you’ve just got to trust that God loves you, He has a purpose for you, and that trusting Him is the way to get through life’s biggest disappointments. He came here for us. He came to give us hope in the midst of a crappy world and spoiled plans. He offers us the best gift we could possibly ask for.

This Christmas, I urge anyone who can relate to those of us in the semi-colon community to discover why we celebrate Christmas. Belonging to the cancer community makes for a rough, unfair and often heartbreaking life. It’s one of the hardest things to bear. But the good news is that we do not have to bear it alone. Jesus went through the roughest thing on earth and also died an early, unfair death. And His significance is that He was God, He knew it was all going to happen, and He did it anyway for you and me. No colon issues, ER visits, sleet or snow can take away this message of promise and hope for all of us.

I wish anyone who reads my blog a very Merry Christmas. If you’re a person of faith, I encourage you this year to dig deeper and get to new levels in your relationship with Jesus. If you’re a person who doesn’t consider themselves “religious,” I pray that you give it another chance. Get to know the real Jesus. Read about what he was like. Put aside your stereotypes of Christians (although they are probably very accurate unfortunately) that hinder you from getting to know Jesus and check it out. Give it a chance. It will save your life. It will set you free from your pain, hurts and confusion. It will be the greatest gift you’ve ever received.

December 26, 2009 at 8:14 pm Leave a comment

A Great Christmas Gift

Anyone wondering what to get their favorite gassy girl? Got a cool colon-less chico you’re shopping for this year? Might I recommend the 2010 Colondar.

For anyone who’s been impacted by colon cancer, GI issues, IBS, Chron’s, colon surgery, frequent colonoscopies, or ulcerative colis – this is the gift for them. The annual calendar tells the stories of at least 13 colon cancer survivors who are surviving the disease and spreading hope. I was honored to serve as Miss October 09, and while I tend to be partial to the 2009 gang, I have to say the 2010 group seems incredibly awesome. They’re a good looking bunch too.

Gift a gift with a cause this year to your favorite colon pal and support the Colon Club. You won’t regret it.

December 4, 2009 at 10:42 pm Leave a comment

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