Please share your story: :
Throughout my 20s I have always had difficulty calming my heartburn. I would chew tums like candy and usually always think nothing of it. We were out for my husband's birthday in January of 2016 when suddenly I felt the worst stomach pain of my life followed by immediate and intense heartburn. I had never felt this kind of pain before and attributed it to something I ate. I was in so much pain I finally went to go see my doctor who then recommended me to a GI specialist. After and endoscopy the doctor confirmed my worst fear; there was a tumor growing inside me where my esophagus meets my stomach; I in fact had esophageal cancer. I quickly underwent an esophajectomy, where now my stomach has been resectioned to be my new esophagus. Because the tumor had gone a little farther into my esophageal wall that they thought, they confirmed as a team I would need to under both chemo and radiation as a preventive measure. I was the youngest person ever to receive this surgery as most people diagnosed with this type of cancer are older me, and who frequently smoke. I never realized how much cancer would interrupt my life and effect both my body and my mind. I finally went into remission in December of 2016; best Christmas gift ever. I HATE cancer, but truthfully cancer did teach me a lot. I have learned to appreciate all the small victories in life such as waking up in the morning and finding the strength to make it throughout the day. I am fortunate to have a great family that never considered me a burden and fought over who could "sit" with me that day. Here I am one year later still cancer free never letting cancer tear me down.
How has your story shaped who you are today?:
I have learned just how quickly your life can change in an instant. I went from being a care free 29 year old to be concerned that I won't live to see 30. I always thought disease would effect "old" people and went about my day care free. I wake up grateful that I am still around to enjoy the day and realize how precious each moment truly is. I have learned that not everyone is fortunate to have a wonderful and supportive support system and I am truly blessed to have these positive people around me. My life has changed because of this disease, but for the better. I watch closely what I eat, I learned who my true friends are, and most importantly I have restored my faith with God after many years of claiming I was "too busy" to give a hour back. I have learned that in this environment your attitude is the only thing you can control, you can let cancer have you or you can have cancer- the choice is yours.
What compelled you to share your story?:
My story is no different than any other cancer survivor. People will always tell me "You're so strong," and I always say "Strong was the only option I had." When I learned to be more positive I realized that my mind felt "less heavy," I would attend chemo and radiation on schedule, but with open arms because I knew I couldn't avoid it. I realize that every person with this disease fights like hell to get well again, but not everyone make it to that finish line. I am simply grateful to be able to share my story with others in hopes one day we'll have a cure for all this.
What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?:
Trust your body. If something doesn't feel right and you experience repeated symptoms GO GET IT CHECKED! You are not guaranteed a tomorrow, so if you're fighting this or have survived, know that you can do anything no matter how tough it may seem. There has to be a positive thought to every bad situation; that's how you stay ahead of this game. Always find the silver lining and keep your attitude positive in the worst of situations. You'll make it through.