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Stage 4, 38 years old, wondering?

strattonmeier's picture
strattonmeier
Posts: 6
Joined: Apr 2012

I am very new to the discussion boards, as I was diagnosed on February 14 of this year with stage 4 colon cancer. My initial CT scan revealed a spot on my liver, however a later PET scan showed seven micro-spots. On February 29 I had ten inches of my sigmoid colon removed, along with a host of nodes.

On March 20 - the first day of spring - I began my chemotherapy treatments. Every other week, lucivorian (sp) and oxilyplatin (sp) and 5Fu take home pump for 46 hours.

As with so many of you, I am in shock; still trying to deal with the abundance of information while desperately searching for the one fact that will prove the statistics wrong. That those living with stage 4 cancers can expect to live beyond a few years.

I am young, with no history of colon cancer in my family. If I didn't have cancer, one would say I was healthy. I have an eleven-year old daughter and an amazing husband of sixteen years. I love my life - living, exploring, appreciating. I am just wondering if I will ever reach a point where I believe the words I say: I will overcome this. I will see my daughter grow-up. I will not be a statistic. I will live!

People are not meant to live so close to mortality; thinking they have to cram the rest of their life into two years. There has to be more!

To those who are survivors, you inspire me! With love, faith, good humor, positive thinking, great friends, I too might have such success. =)

I do believe in a Heavenly Father. And I know that he sustains me by his grace, so my courage might not fail me. But just in case I waver, I’ve got my fingers crossed too.

Much love to you all. You are in my thoughts and prayers!

Shauna

steved
Posts: 836
Joined: Apr 2004

I am sorry you find yourself here at this time in your life. I too am stage four aged 39 with two children (4 and 7) and no family history, with all the same thoughts for the future. I have had longer to think, I guess, having had stage 3 cancer diagnosed in 2003 and only having my recurrence since 2010. However, I too remain fairly well- I work full time as a doctor, play with my kids and enjoy life when ever I can. Yes, I have pain and some other symptoms and some days are dominated by treatments and hospital appointments but I continuing to live.

Time frames in this game are simply guesses and averages from studies- they have little applicability to individuals especially those who fall outside the 'typical' study group. Your age, good treatment, good physical health and positive attitude will serve you well and you still retain hope for a good life yet.

The hidden blessing in all this is making us appreciate all we have and each day we live. I think those of us with young children face some unique challenges but they also are my strongest motivator to continue to live life with quality.

I wish all the best in the time ahead
steve

need support
Posts: 40
Joined: Feb 2012

Shauna I believe there is much more life for you than two years. Stage iv cancer is not what it used to be. You will see many on here that have survived for years with similiar dx. For me it has been 1 year with stage 3b rectal cancer. It was a long 6 months of treatment, but I felt well many times during that 6 months in between treatments. I remember after my second month, my family was looking for me when they saw a ladder looking out the back door of the house. I think they thought I jumped off the roof, but I was repairing a shingle on the roof with my pump right beside me. You stay strong young lady. I can tell by your writing you are a fighter, I'll be praying for you in church tomorrow. chuck

pscott1
Posts: 207
Joined: Jan 2011

I'm so sorry you had to have reason to come here but trust me, out of all the initial decisions I made after diagnosis, finding this site was one of the best. I too, like you, have colon cancer with multiple mets to my liver. I was diagnosed Jan of 2011 Stage II and found out in Feb of 2011 that I had 30+ lesions in both lobes of my liver, thus became Stage IV. I started with the Folfox regimen w/Avastin. My starting CEA was 337. A little over a year later, I am down to 15 lesions on my liver, CEA is at 1.0 (last count) and I am on an extended chemo break from January 13th. I am hopeful as you are. I have 3 girls, 11, 14 and soon to be 30. They motivate and inspire me to appreciate the days I have and cause me to hope for more. I, like you, want to be here a long time to see them grow and live their own lives. I also have no colon cancer in my family. I have spent many thoughtful moments saying "why me"...."what did I do or not do"....but it is what it is. I pray that the treatments that are available will keep us going until there is a cure for this dreaded disease that has tried so hard to steal the joy in our life. Keep coming here for comfort, support, venting, celebration....whatever this beast takes you thru, know that coming here will help ease your pain. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Much love,

Pam

janderson1964's picture
janderson1964
Posts: 1568
Joined: Oct 2011

Welcome to this board. I am sorry that you have to be here. I am here to tell you there is hope. I was dx 6 1/2 stage IV with liver mets and i am doing well. There are a few 8 year survivors who i am sure will chime in.

Did your doctor talk to you about chemo hopefully killing some of the small spots and then having liver surgery.

taraHK
Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Hi Shauna,

I am so sorry about your diagnosis and that you have reason to be here -- but you have come to the right spot and you are welcome. As others have said, there are several uplifting stories from people on this board who were diagnosed Stage IV and who are now cancer-free for several years. Others who may not be cancer-free but who are living with cancer many years after diagnosis.

I was diagnosed with Stage III rectal cancer at age 44. My kids were age 10 and 12. That was almost 10 years ago. I have had several recurrences (and in fact I'm in treatment again now) but I've periods of NED (no evidence of disease) and periods of "chemo break" (so I could travel, relax). I've kept working - and socializing - and exercising throughout. Both of my boys are at college now. I believe I have a good quality of life. Like SteveD says, you have to make the good days count more than the lousy/hospital ones!

Good luck to you

Tara

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 4240
Joined: Feb 2009

So sorry that you are going through all this. The cocktail (chemo) that you are on is not easy, but doable. It sounds like you have a good attitude and faith in God to get you through all this. It's hard but we are here to help you get through all those situations that you are going through. Welcome to the board and just wanted to let you know you have become a member of a great group. Please continue to let us know how you are doing with you.

Kim

janie1
Posts: 753
Joined: Apr 2011

So sorry for this diagnosis. Life has so many twists and turns. I can only say, focus on the positives from here on out, and you have many on your side. Any questions you may have, some one here will probably be able to relate and assist.
So glad you introduced yourself.

dmdwins
Posts: 451
Joined: Aug 2008

Hi Shauna,

Reading your story reminded me a lot about myself.
I was diagnosed Stage 4 in 2007. At that time my
daughters were 11 and 12 years old. The thought of
them growing up without me was overwhelming and
all consuming.

I tried hard to rely on my faith but it is difficult to not question
why or get discouraged. I had my fingers crossed too!!

I am happy and grateful to tell you that 4 1/2 years later
that I am no evidence of disease and have been able to
experience many wonderful moments with my girls. My
oldest just went to the prom.... And I was here for it.

I wish you hope as you go through this difficult time and look for
brighter days ahead.

Dawn

Doc_Hawk's picture
Doc_Hawk
Posts: 685
Joined: Jan 2012

Congratulations on finding a great support network with this website, I just wish you didn't have to have a Dx to find it.

I was Dx on 19 May 2012 with Stage IV mets to the right lung and too many in the liver to count. I spent the rest of that day in "poor,poor pitiful me" mode. At one point, I reflected back on how hard I had worked to get out of a wheelchair just so I could die of cancer. That was the hardest that I wept after being diagnosed.

A week and a half later, I was talking with my best friend and told her that it was a great day to be alive. Then I paused and told her that every day was a great day to be alive and I've said that every day since then. With that statement, my resolve and strength have got me through some very difficult days.

Next month, I celebrate two birthdays: the 1st marks the day that this body was born and the 19th marks the day that I learned how to really live. I'm going to commemorate it by getting a tattoo on my right arm of a sword with STAGE IV across the hilt and SURVIVOR curved under the tip of blade. Down the length of the blade will be 19 MAY 2010 and dripping from the tip of the blade will be two drops of blood, one for each year and another drop will be added every year for the rest of my life.

My final thoughts on this are to relate my belief about God. I have preached for years that God is a blacksmith and He takes each one of use as a raw piece of metal and first puts us into His forge to get us red hot, then on the anvil where He pounds us with His hammer to shape us. Occasionally, we get a cool and tempering dip into water, then it's back to the forge and the anvil. Finally, we are dragged across a stone until we are sharp weapons to serve against evil. I believe that at this stage in our lives, we are done with the forge and the anvil and are now being honed and this can take a very long time.

So take heart, Shauna, there are treatments coming out every year that are better than ever before. Ask your Onc to test you for the wild KRAS gene, which opens you up to a wider range of treatments. It's pretty rare, and the side effects can be pretty bad, but the alternative is always worse.

May God Bless You,

Doc

joemetz's picture
joemetz
Posts: 493
Joined: Nov 2011

Doc

I absolutely love your Blacksmith quote within your post.

I had to steel it and repost within my Caring Bridge site.

awesome stuff!

my best

Joe

Here's the site: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/joemetzger

Thank you so much for your post and your wisdom.

BusterBrown's picture
BusterBrown
Posts: 221
Joined: Mar 2005

Shauna,
I was dx at age 42 w/stage 4 crc and liver mets. In January of this year I turned 50 and on Tuesday my docs told me that I'm cancer free. Best advice I could give, compartmentalize your illness, visit it when you have to, and live your life.

Buster

have2believe
Posts: 135
Joined: Dec 2010

My best wishes for successful treatment. I also wanted to share this blog w/ you: http://www.wunderglo.com/

She was diagnosed also very young, at age 28 stage 4 and she's been fighting aggressively and courageously ever since.

Varmint5's picture
Varmint5
Posts: 371
Joined: Feb 2012

Hi Shauna,

I'm so sorry you have to be here but you've found a great support group. As you've heard, there is so much reason to be hopeful. I am here because my 33 year old daughter was diagnosed last October, 7 weeks after the birth of her first child. She was, like you, stage IV at diagnosis with numerous mets throughout her liver. She had 7 treatments of Folfox, then colon resection surgery, now on Folfiri and doing very well. Her liver tumors are still there but have shrunk dramatically. Next week she will be evaluated for Theraspheres, a targeted treatment for the liver tumors. We are very optimistic. You are young, healthy and have a great attitude. Just go forward believing you will do well. You've gotten some good advice here from the others.

Best wishes and prayers for you and everybody here -

Sandy

joemetz's picture
joemetz
Posts: 493
Joined: Nov 2011

hi Shauna

thanks for sharing your post...

I am a 23 year survivor of Non-Hodkins Lymphoma, and now in a battle with Colon Cancer with over 30 mets to the liver. Nothing in the lymph nodes... this time and nothing in the lungs.

i learned recently that my radiation treatments (which we very high doses of radation in an experimental mode 23 years ago) is to cause of my current cancer. They do NOT radiate people as much as they did 20+ years ago... as they know much more now about radiation and the long term side effects it can cause.

so, I was dx'd in November 2011... and still in the about the same chemo cocktail as you... but they've added Erbitux to my Folfox6 cocktail of treatments.

I like you have a strong faith, but often there are times of question and concern... but I still fall back on... Live life positively and help others as much as posible.

I have an 11 year old as well as a 20, 18 and 16 year old and we've been married 23 years. Its been a great ride, but i'm far from done. I made my bucket list for the upcoming years and definately seeing my 11 year old graduate from high school and college is on that list. that's only 7 to 11 year, but that's better than those dame cancer statistics that are out there.

Remember, that a 5 year study, is already 5 to 7 years old! and new treatments and more education happens for the onc's every year. Althogh the treatments we are on have been around for awhile... the combination on how they are served up and the percentages of each that we are getting is most likely different than 5 years ago.

anyway, your positive attitude will definately help you along the way. And the love and support from your family is something presious and a life lesson for all.

cheers to a succesful chemo cocktail!

I have my 16th treatment today... and 8 more to go till a reversal surgery for my colostomy. It hasn't been easy, but it also could have been worse. I wish i had more to share with you, but please know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

take care and be thankful that that cancer is much better than getting hit by the Greyhound Bus syndrom! LOL.

Love. Laugh. Life.

my best

joe

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/joemetzger

strattonmeier's picture
strattonmeier
Posts: 6
Joined: Apr 2012

Dear Joe,

Thank you for your post. THANKS TO EVERYONE FOR THEIR POST! It helps to read so many supportive comments; to read the successes. I am sorry so many are here for the same reasons. And it is very clear, cancer does not discriminate. I hear you about the treatments of today, and I have faith - I wish - to fall into the sub category of people who survive 20, 30, or who knows, a normal life span. My fingers are crossed for everyone. That we all might reach such a goal.

Be well my friends.

Love,
Shauna

Minnesotagirl
Posts: 141
Joined: Sep 2011

Shauna,

I believe our Heavenly Father will sustain you by his grace. Your courage is commendable and I wish you countless blessings in your journey. Continue to stay inspired by good humor, positive thinking, great family and friends because you now will be an inspiration to others on this same journey.

Blessings to you dear one~ "Minnie"

tanstaafl's picture
tanstaafl
Posts: 959
Joined: Oct 2010

There are many things one can do. We've had many discussions here about treating advanced CRC. Complementary treatments can be neoadjuvant (before surgery), perioperative (around and including surgery) and adjuvant (after surgery).

One of the continuing problems that I see here is that people under utilize molecular targeting, what is known, knowable or usable. Different kinds of medicine use different materials, whether nutritional, TCM or conventional, to hit various molecular targets, some that overlap. We add natural products and off label generic drugs to address this.

Also a lost treatment point that seems crucial is that there is maintenance treatment post-chemo to stop residual metastases, from spreading. It is so common, doctor "sez NED", stops everything, and a few months later, it comes back worse. For my wife, daily things like cimetidine, PSK, vitamin D3, aspirin, silymarin, and many others, as well as light, daily oral chemo have been important.

dorookie's picture
dorookie
Posts: 1681
Joined: Jul 2007

I am in your shoes, DX at 38 only with stage 3, but it was about a year later after surgery, chemo, rads, clear and then it came back, so now stage 4, did oral chemo, surgery, no rads this time, thank God...I have been clear since 11/18/2008, or 6/04/2009, I have to dates as one uses the day of surgery and some use the day of the last chemo treatment.

I have been in remission or NED for 3.5 years, I count by the surgery date *grin*

I have no secret as to why, I have no recipe for any special diets, I have several issues left over from all the treatments, and I struggle mentally with the whole thing, but I am getting better, and taking life one day at a time, and I am so very thankful that I have each and every day...

I too believe in God, I strongly believe he is not finished with me here on this earth, I for one am glad, not ready to go just yet.

I will keep you in my prayers as I do everyone that finds this wonderful group of very special people, many of who have been a great part of me getting to where I am. There really are some amazing people here and I thank God every night for them and for all on here.

HUGS
Beth

braelee2's picture
braelee2
Posts: 126
Joined: Sep 2010

So sorry and welcome to the board. I was 37 what I was diagnosed. (stage3) it's a long bumpy road just keep your faith and TRY to stay positive. Everyone on her are true blessings and can help you through anything. Keep your head up and keep smiling.

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