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What a difference a year makes...

KierstenRx's picture
Posts: 249
Joined: Nov 2006

Hi All,
I wanted to post this especially because there are so many new people on this site. Last year at this time I wasn't sure where I was going to be this year. Although I always stayed positive I was very scared. I had been diagnosed in September with Stage III rectal cancer. I completed six weeks of chemo and radiation that ended on Dec. 1, 2006. I was exhausted and in a lot of pain from the radiation. I was preparing for surgery.....wondering if it would be successful, then knowing I was faced with 4 more months of chemo after that. Last Christmas was a tough time, but also made me cherish it so much more than usual because of the circumstances. I was too tired and in too much pain to do the normal decorating and even canceled my annual work Christmas party. I remember thinking that next year things would be different, I would be different (in a good way), and I would be strong and healthy. Well after much struggle, uncertainty, healing, tears, several foul words, a few bumps in the road, and listening to the Rocky Balboa soundtrack a thousand times I made it through. In September of 07 I was declared NED. Although in recent months I have still been dealing with some post chemo and surgery issues I am slowly feeling like I have gotten my life back.

Tomorrow night I am having that annual Christmas party. I love this time of year. I have decorated like crazy both inside and out. I went a bit overboard and put up three Christmas trees. I am cooking a cleaning and even back to being the "bossy wife" to my husband because he has procrastinated hanging the lights outside. I will be entertaining for all my friends and I can't wait. We will be having an ornament exchange and singing Karaoke (tacky I know, but very entertaining). I have been looking forward to this moment since last December and it is finally here. I will never forget what has happened over this year, but what a triumph it feels to know that I am cancer free and am starting to live my "new normal" life again. I will not let cancer or my ongoing fears steal my joy.

I want all you new people to know that life does go on again. We won't be the same people that we were. I have scars and tingling feet to prove that I am a survivor. No matter if I have one more year or 40 I am really going to live and enjoy my life. All you newbies will get through also. You will be amazed at how strong you all are and next year you will be thinking what a difference a year makes.


brn2ride's picture
Posts: 32
Joined: Dec 2007

you are an inspiration. I hope your xmas is great.

kbienapfl's picture
Posts: 61
Joined: Sep 2006

Kiersten, thank you so much for sharing. You are a true fighter and an inspiration.

It was said to me a few days ago that a light switch had been turned off in my life. Yours as well. But as we know, another light switch was turned on and we now have greater appreciation for many, many moments.

Merry Christmas and enjoy the season to the fullest.

Congratulations and my best to you.


Posts: 266
Joined: Jun 2007

Hey Kiersten,
Thank you for your post. Just last night I was crying to my husband "Will I ever feel better". Just finished chemo Monday but still feel lousy, expecially the nausea. Anyway when I read your post it gives me hope just like all the replies your have written to me full of hope and positive thinking. Thanks again for your time and your attitude. May God Bless you and your family through the holidays and beyond. I hope I feel like putting up a Christmas tree if not there will always be next year. My husband is taking me to Florida Sunday for a week, I am just praying and trying to feel good enough to go. Again there is always next year.

Love, Robin

Posts: 119
Joined: Jan 2007


Thanks so much for sharing.

I feel just as you do, my nightmare began last December. I had to have a spinal fusion and at the time they were wheeling me to the OR, I was told that I was anemic and would need blood during the surgery. The doctors told me that I was bleeding somewhere and needed to find out where immediately. A colonoscopy was done as soon as I regained some of my strength, tumor in my colon (Stage III) and had to face surgery again in February with my colon resection. I had 12 treatments of chemo. I worked my job throughout the treatments. Some days I could hardly put one foot in front of the other but I got through it. What a journey this past year has been. I've learned lots from it. I've learned that I am pretty much fearless at this point. I've faced cancer and have dealt with it, it's tough to beat that. I've learned how much I love my family, my children, grandchildren and husband who has been my rock!

You newbies, look ahead to better days. You will certainly be challenged and feel down right awful through the treatments, but there is light at the end. I feel really good, chemo ended in September. You will feel better.

My best wishes to all of you! And Kiersten, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!


Posts: 39
Joined: Oct 2007

Oh thank you so much for sharing, your message gives me such hope! I too have stage 3 rectal cancer, went through chemo, radiation, surgery, and have just begun chemo again.

Today, I was in tears as I had neuropathy so bad and felt just icky all around (I'm sure my hubby is tired of listening, but hes a trooper!)Christmas is usually my favorite time of year, I enjoy walking outside and looking at all the lights, but now I get an uncomfortable stinging sensation from the cold (I'm told its caused from the Oxiaplatum).

Anyway, thanks again for the encouragement it is much needed and much appreciated!

Posts: 87
Joined: Nov 2006

Thank you for starting this subject. Like you our journey began on Halloween, dx stage 2 T4, and our holidays were pretty low key. My husband's surgery was a week before Thanksgiving and chemo started Jan 2. Thinking back over this year it has been one of many thanks.Thanks to my husbands doctor for making him go have a colonoscopy, thanks to the doctor who did it and the gentle way he handed the news to us, thanks to the surgeon who took great care of my husband and has become a true friend and many thanks to his onocologist who made his 6 month journey on chemo bearable, and thanks also to him for taking me under his wing and putting me into remission from ITP a platelet disorder(my blood did not clot)with a new treatment and he did not charge me a thing (it was on the house, we have very high deductible per person) because he cared and has become a true friend also. Thanks to all of you who have been a great support for me through all of this without you all this journey would have been very lonely and scary. Our family has been truely blessed this year. My husband has been NED since his surgery and just had his 3 mo appt.after the end of his chemo and we are waiting for the results of his blood tests, but we both know either way we have been touched by many people this year and that God has blessed us in so many ways.

Posts: 881
Joined: Feb 2007


You have been a lifeline with your great attitude, your honest approach and your remarkable spirit. I know I am but one of many you have helped through this wilderness hike, and you helped us notice the beauty along the way. Thank you, and have a very wonderful Christmas!

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