Eleven months ago, my life changed in the worst and best way possible.
Let me explain, during this time I was having issues with my bowel movements. I should add that this was very abnormal for me as I would usually go multiple times a day. After a few days of having this issue, I called my gastrointestinal (GI) doctor. I was told to try an enema. I did as they said and nothing
For the following two weeks I made multiple calls to their office explaining that I had a family history of Crohn’s and colon cancer. Their only concern was, “we need to get you on a regular BM schedule.” I tried laxatives and more enemas but at this point my stomach was hard and the pain I felt was intense. This went on for two full weeks. Luckily, I had a scheduled colonoscopy for Thursday,September 23rd, 2021, at 8:00 AM.
On the night before my appointment, I began to prep for this procedure. My preparation consisted of Miralax and Gatorade. At this point I was in an immense amount of pain and realized the prep was not doing anything. By doing this prep, my body should have started to flush anything and everything in my intestines out, but it wasn’t. Around 8 PM I called the on-call doctor. I was again told to try doing multiple enemas and if that didn’t help to call him back.
I’m sure you can see where this is going. Of course, it did not help, and nothing was coming out. I was then told to stop the prep and wait until the morning to attend my colonoscopy appointment. That night I knew something was wrong. I asked my partner to come into the bedroom to talk, “If anything happens to me please take care of the boys” I said. I had previously expressed to my mother that I knew something was wrong and also expressed the same to some close friends. I’ve always been one to listen to my intuition.
My father took me to the Endoscopy Center for my appointment in the morning. Upon getting there, I told the nurses about my night prior. When they heard how unsuccessful the prep was, they decided not to start to prep me for the colonoscopy. The doctor came in shortly after to explain that she was unable to help or do the procedure that day and that I needed to go downstairs to the ER. I had to wait in the waiting room for a time period I can’t even recall. During that time, they did take me back to have an X-ray and a CT scan. After the doctor viewed the results, I was told that it looked like I had a block (most likely fecal matter.)
Still there, my partner had to leave around 3pm to go pick up our youngest son from the school bus. My parents also left after a long day of waiting and told me to keep them updated. Shortly after everyone left I was told I needed a Covid test because I was getting admitted.
The next few minutes were a blur.
Someone came down from the endoscopy center and rolled me upstairs. They told me that I was going for a scope. To say I was scared was an understatement. I was brought into the procedure room where I met an amazing GI doctor and an incredibly kind nurse. Before I was put under general anesthesia, I asked how long the procedure would take and they told me approximately 1 to 1 ½ hours. Going through this alone, is cause for anyone to have anxiety but for someone who already has anxiety, I began to have an attack.
The nurse held my hand, as she saw my fear, to comfort me. She was truly an Angel.
The next thing I knew I woke up and was in recovery. I asked the nurses what time it was. I figured it must’ve been around 5:30/6:pm as I knew I had gone in for my scope around 4. They replied, “1AM”. Hearing this, I thought they were joking. The nurses assured me they were not joking. Within a few
minutes a wonderful surgeon that I had never met came into my room. She explained to me that I had had a tumor blocking my intestines, and that she removed it. She told me it was cancer and that now I have a temporary ileostomy bag. The moment I heard her say these words, my life changed in more ways than I could ever explain.
I was beyond grateful that the surgeon had previously talked to my mother and explained everything to her. My mother was the person who gave her the OK to do the surgery while I was under. The next few days in the hospital were a blur. There were so many things that I had to learn. One of them being how to change my ostomy bag and come to terms with my cancer diagnosis.
During this time, my surgeon also told me had I not gone in when I did, within a few days my intestines would have ruptured and most likely I would have gone septic. The outcome would have been something totally different. I would have died. I wouldn’t be here, and I wouldn’t be able to share my story with you.
When I say my surgeon saved my life, she truly did. She took something out of my body that was life threatening. Something I didn’t even know existed in my body and she saved my life. During my stay at the hospital, she said to me that she was confident she had got all the cancer. Her confidence and kindness made me feel at ease, an ease only she could provide.
Getting a Cancer diagnosis could have changed everything for me in a negative way. I could have easily been angry and lived in that feeling for an unknown amount of time. However, I chose not to be angry, I chose to take this as a second chance at life. I looked forward to getting out of the hospital and
embracing my new life every single day.
It was shortly after I was released from the hospital that I found out the stage of my cancer. Stage 2 high risk colon cancer. That meant six months of oral chemotherapy. Chemo could have easily been another reason why my world could have been rocked in a negative way, but instead I remembered that I was
just so grateful to be alive. My cancer was treatable, and I was able to look forward to eventually being cancer free.
Later on, during that very same day, I found out that my surgeon did in-fact get all the cancer out of my body and that all of my lymph nodes were clear of cancer!
The next few months were filled with many ups and downs. As hard as I wanted to stay happy, sometimes I wasn’t. Right before starting my chemo, I learned that I had an infection in my incision site and had to delay my chemo. A few weeks later it became infected again and I had to pause chemo again. When I sit here and try to express how much the chemo took out of me, I just can’t. No words could ever truly depict how it made me feel. I was beyond exhausted all of the time and sometimes just getting out of bed took every ounce of energy I had in me. The truth is the nausea, exhaustion, chemo brain, hand and foot syndrome (redness and painful blisters on my hands and feet) and my hair thinning were all chemo side effects or as I call them “sacrifices” in order to get to remission.
As I mentioned before, prior to any of this happening I had severe anxiety and depression. Leaving my house was something I struggled with daily. I also realized I had been self-sabotaging myself for many years by telling myself that I wasn’t worth it and constantly putting myself down. I’m not saying I enjoyed cancer and that everything happens for a reason, but I truly was given a second chance at life the moment I woke up after surgery.
From that moment on, I refused to waste a second of my life. The person that I was before no longer exists and I’m a much better person now because of it. I say yes and go out of my comfort zone often. When my 7-year-old asked me to bake a cake at 7:00pm on a school night instead of saying no we baked a cake. He decorates it all by himself, often times making a mess but the memories we make now are worth it. I pick my battles and no longer stress over the small things in life that I can’t control. I make an effort to show up for the people who mean the most to me in my life. By showing up for them is also me showing up for myself.
Aside from making time for the ones I love and who love me, I also did something remarkable. I finished my last semester in college. This is something that I will forever be proud of. Ironically the same day that I finished chemo I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Children’s Learning, Development, and
Advocacy. I am using this opportunity to constantly tell my story to anyone that will listen. I feel it is so important that we all learn to advocate for ourselves and that we learn to trust our instincts when it comes to things we feel in our body. I want to educate people and eliminate misconceptions.
Colon cancer is not just a cancer for old people, I was 40 when I was diagnosed, just a few days before I turned 41. The guidelines say that people should be getting colonoscopies after they turn 45, that isn’t good enough. I know it ran in my family, but statistics have changed and show that so many more younger people are getting diagnosed with colon cancer. I also believe that if you have a doctor who is not listening to you, you need to find a new doctor. It is sad that we have to fight for people to listen to us when we know our own bodies. I do have to say I am so grateful for the team that I have now and their willingness to always listen to me and explain everything. They have never once dismissed a failing that I’ve had.
Being diagnosed with cancer was one of the worst things that I have ever dealt with. However, the way it changed me is one of the best things that could have ever happened to me.
Submitted by: Amie Teixeira
Amie you are so brave, and I love how you never let cancer take your life but rather use it to empower you to live the life you want.
It was an honor to share Amie's story with the world and I feel incredibly grateful she entrusted me with it.
Love and lemons,