I felt like any 30 year old would invincible with my whole life in front of me. I was married, had a career, a house, and very athletic. I loved playing softball with my friends and rough tough football and going to gym I took pride in all of those things. I felt like I was going in a great direction and couldn’t wait to see where life was taking me. I started to have issues with constipation and diarrhea at the of the age 29. I didn’t know what to think just thought maybe something I had been eating wasn’t agreeing with me. As the symptoms got worse I was persistent on getting checked so I could fix what was wrong and go about living my life like a normal 30 year old. After getting numerous tests done I was in shock to find out that I had a 3 inch tumor in my colon. December 8, 2008 I was diagnosed with Stage IV Colorectal Cancer. From that day on my life changed forever.
On December 29th, 2008 I started Chemo and radiation. During this time I went through many different struggles. I was afraid of eating because of the pain I was having. Everyday I had to walk in to radiation at 10am every morning knowing the pain and burning I was going to indore the rest of the day. By 5 pm everyday for 6 weeks I was in tears because of the burning from the radiation. To this day I can not watch The Rachael Ray show because it was on when I went in for radiation My the bathroom issues were going on for months the physical and mental pain I went through at that time was draining on me and my family but I managed to finish the treatments. In the middle of all of this craziness I found out the cancer had spread to my liver. I felt like the cancer was spreading all over my body and doing it’s best to try and kill me. In the meantime it was time to get my bowel obstruction surgery done and I was told I would get ileostomy bag put on for up to 3 weeks to 3 months during recovery. During my follow up session I had a lot of questions about my ileostomy bag. That was until my Colorectal Surgeon broke the news to me that my diagnosis was worse than previously diagnosed. The cancer was in my blood and lymph nodes and I had to go in for 6 months of aggressive chemo. During this rough treatment I also had to have surgery on my liver to remove the tumor. After liver surgery I finished my chemo therapy and found out I was cancer free and it was time to get my ileostomy reversed. I couldn’t wait to get my life back and heal from all the pain and trauma I went through in the last year.
While healing from my reversal I felt like something was not right. I was concerned and contacted my doctor; he thought that it was just my body healing and that everything was going to be OK. Fast forward 5 months later I was still having the sweats, pain, and sickness. I found out that I had an abscessed infection where my bowel reception surgery was caused by radiation. The only way my doctor knew how to heal the infection was putting a colostomy bag on me. As if it was not hard enough to get a bag put back on after everything I went through I found out that my infection was in my blood and I was sent to an infectious disease doctor to help it heal. The infection healed after 3 weeks and I finally felt healthy for the most part but now I was stuck with my colostomy bag on and wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to get it reversed again.
Struggles I went through
I felt like being cancer free and infection free should have been the happiest moment in my life. However, I couldn’t have felt more alone, depressed and confused than ever before. I had a constant reminder of the struggle I had gone through and even though I was alive I was filled with so much hate. I had to start to pick up the pieces in my life, but didn’t know where to start and had no one that helped guide me in that direction. After 3 years of being told what to constantly do to help me get better under the careful eyes of my physicians I was told to go start living my life again, but I still hadn’t come to terms with all the physical and mental permanent body altercations trauma I just went through. My life was in shambles I was out drinking heavily at least four times a week, my marriage and relationships with friends were starting to deteriorate. I was in the darkest point of my life and I didn’t even realize it. I had survivors guilt because my Mom died from stomach cancer in 2001. And I didn’t understand why I survived and she wasn’t has fortunate. It wasn’t until I started to seek help from a therapist and finding support groups like colon town and The Colon Cancer Alliance to help my journey to recovery start to take place. But the turning point in my life was getting involved in my first run/walk for the undy walk in Philadelphia. In 2013 I raised over $10,000 for Colon Cancer awareness. Selling neon shirts with phases such as Push Ur Tush and Save Ur Anus. I’ve started public speaking at Colon Cancer events. And also on Live Television on CBS 3. And I will a model for the upcoming 2016 Colon Club’s Colondar Bad Ass 2.0 Magazine. I am still going through struggles as we speak even though I just hit over 5 years in remission, my CEA levels continue to stay high and my doctors don’t have an explanation for it. I just try and stay positive as I can and hope that I continue to remain in remission.
Things that would have helped
I wish that my physicians or the professionals that I was surrounded by my entire treatment could have given me some insight on what resources are out there for colon cancer or ostomies and how important it is to get involved. Just remember every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.
Ed Yakacki ,
Stage IV Colorectal Cancer Survivor