Posts tagged ‘young colon cancer’

January 23 – 10 Year Survivor | Mae’s Adoption Journey

If the journey to our three-week adoption wasn’t emotional enough, there was a special piece to the the timing of things that was making it even more memorable. I was walking in the shadow of another emotional January that happened just 10 years before. That one was just as thrilling, yet not so joyous.

The 2001 Diagnosis

Ten years earlier I had been rushed through a similar rat race of ups and downs – many that fell on the same days as key events in our adoption story. Except 10 years before, they weren’t full of anticipation and joy of a baby. Instead, they were full of fear and anxiety of cancer. As a 17-year-old, I had just been diagnosed with colon cancer. The roller coaster was full of doctors appointments, scans and scheduled surgeries. Not baby shoes and nursery items.

For months leading up to my “10 year” anniversary, I had come up with several ways I wanted to celebrate. I’d gone so far as to sketch out a big fundraiser to raise money for the Colon Club. Then I thought about running ten 5Ks in 2011, signifying my “10 years of survival.” But, nothing ever fabricated. And I realized that it was most likely because God knew I’d have other plans on the 10th year anniversary of being diagnosed with colon cancer.

10 Years of Survivorship and An Introduction to the Family

As the big day came, all I really wanted was to be with my family and our baby. Although I thought I wanted something “big” to give back to others – in the end I just wanted to be at home with the people who had supported me the most. My family.

Each one of the grandparents had waited for a new picture or update all week. While Mike & I would go visit the baby, they had yet to meet her. We wanted to make sure we had a court date and it looked like everything was a “go” before we introduced the baby to them. But as my special day came, I knew it was time. I wanted to celebrate my 10 year anniversary of being diagnosed with cancer with our family meeting our baby. Wht a way to redeem the day.

Meeting the Grandparents

Uncle Nick’s house had become like a second home to us, especially when he told us we were welcome to invite the family over. We gave each of our parents the time and address and told them we’d see them soon! We arrived a little early for more one-on-one time with our baby girl. Time flew and before we knew it, they had all arrived. And right on time – if not a little early. They couldn’t wait to meet our newest addition. It was a perfect moment.

The evening was one of the most memorable in the process. Grandparents ooed and awwed over our beautiful girl. Tears sprung when we finally disclosed her name to them, swearing them to secrecy. Even after a week of visits, we could tell she knew my face and responded to my voice. We ate pizza and had cupcakes. No talk of cancer was found – just excitement for a new baby. And in reality, that’s just how it needed to be.

Years earlier my parents were standing in a library telling me I had cancer. My life was at stake, and the future was uncertain. But now, 10 years later, I was still here. I had life. And what was even better was that another little life was about to enter our world. That was the best celebration I could have ever asked for.

January 23, 2012 at 2:31 pm Leave a comment

My Personal 9/11

Some days you never forget. Just about everyone can tell you where they were during 9/11. I distinctly remember Columbine. And my dad still tells stories of JFK’s shooting. Today is not a day that is remembered by our nation, but it is a day that’s significant for me and my family. It’s one of those days where no matter how many years go by, I will always remember where I was and what happened nine years ago.

My story actually begins at the library. I worked at the public library near my house as a “page” which meant I had the glorified job of arranging books on a cart and then reshelving them. It was a great job with flexible hours, decent pay and amazing coworkers. It was a Tuesday night. I was with my friends (we called ourselves “The A Team”, ) and we were excited this evening because we had the special job of  moving the tables and chairs in the childrens’ book area for a speaker. We loved when speakers came. We’d spend at least 30 minutes on unique arrangements for the chairs and table stacking patterns.  Anything that could take up extra time, we tried.

As much as I was trying to have fun with our furniture arranging on this evening, I wasn’t feeling it. I was expecting a phone call, and my mind couldn’t stay focused. I couldn’t shake a feeling that something was off. As we finished setting up for the program, I looked up to see my mom & dad coming through the doors. I was surprised to see them since I had two hours of work left. Something was strange though. Their faces verified my anxious feelings. Plus, they looked like death. They met me in the childrens’ area and began to deliver the news.

“We got a call from Dr. T’s office today,” my dad said. “Your mass they found was malignant.”

Dad and Mom looked at me with somber faces, pursed their lips, and anticipated my response. As they began to reach in for instant comfort, the reality that I was a little too young for the disease set in as I asked,

“Malignant? What does that mean?”

They got an even sadder look on their faces.

“It means it’s cancer honey,” Mom said. “Your tumor is cancerous.”

As soon as Mom explained that malignant meant cancer, I felt a heaviness that hasn’t ever completely lifted. I’m sure I began asking many questions they couldn’t answer. We made our way toward the front of the library for my coat and stopped by to tell my boss that I’d be gone for a while. She gave me a big hug and told me not to worry about a thing.

The rest of the evening is a blur, except I remember telling my brother, calling Mike who was at SBU, and having Nick come over to pray with my family that evening. I knew nothing about cancer, except that the only man I knew who had it, died.  I knew I should have felt scared, but didn’t fully understand. I wasn’t crying, I wasn’t sure I was upset. I was just numb and confused about what this all meant. At 17, I didn’t have a lot of experience with the disease, nor did I understand its repurcussions. All I knew was that life would be different.

One thing I remember telling Nick that evening was that I was thankful for the opportunity to spice up my testimony. I had always felt I had such a vanilla story of knowing Jesus. I was raised in the church, so my journey was so typical up until then, or so I felt. But this night, when the cancer bomb dropped, I knew my story had changed. While I was unaware of the physical and mental changes, I definitely knew that part of this new diagnosis was spiritual. And my teenage faith automatically put me into the “God’s got a purpose” for this mode that night.

Today I enter my ninth year as a cancer survivor, and I am reminded by my own words back then. No matter what comes – whether it’s a third diagnosis, a complete colon removal, a rough day with olive oil, losing a friend, or just a challenging emotional day, my prayer is that I forever hang on to my own teenage advice and remember God’s got a plan for all of this – and I have to trust that.

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:2-4

January 23, 2010 at 9:58 pm 3 comments


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