In 2009, at the age of 45, I heard the words no one wants to hear, “You’ve got cancer.”
Physically active and a happily married mother of two, I ate right and exercised religiously. I worked three part-time jobs, took care of my family, volunteered for worthy causes and taught Sunday school. And I almost never got sick. Before cancer, my pharmacist joked that the only prescriptions he filled for me were birth control pills or prenatal vitamins.
Then colorectal cancer came knocking at my door.
The diagnosis was surprising because I didn’t fit the profile. Colorectal cancer is most common in people over age 50. Risk factors include things like a family history of colorectal cancer, diabetes, and eating a diet high in fat and cholesterol and low in fiber. People are at increased risk if they drink alcohol, smoke, don’t get enough exercise, or are overweight.
None of those categories described me, my history or my lifestyle. Nevertheless, I had Stage IV cancer – the most advanced and deadly form of the disease. According to the American Cancer Society, only about 6 percent of people diagnosed with Stage IV colorectal cancer survive five years or more.
The cancer started in my colon, spread to my liver and later moved to both lungs. I’ve undergone rigorous chemotherapy twice, a six-week session of chemo and radiation together, two sessions of radiation and endured four major surgeries. Most recently, I’ve gone through stereotactic radiation for treatment of tumors in my right lung and have been on chemotherapy since January 2015.
As I write this, more than six years after my initial diagnosis, doctors say it’s a miracle I’m still here. And it is. The bigger miracle, though, and the one that makes me want to shout my story from the mountaintops is how near God has been to me throughout my journey.
Writing My Anchor Holds was a joy for me, and now my joy is sharing the book and my story with others. Please contact me if you’re interesting in having me speak to your group.
My husband, David, and I have two grown sons and live in Knoxville, Tennessee.