Stage 3 rectal cancer diagnosis, three oncologists (radiation, medical and surgical), CT scans, MRI’s, 25 radiation sessions, chemotherapy, fatigue, hand-foot syndrome, neuropathy, surgery, permanent colostomy, more chemotherapy – this I was told would be my year long journey. How can one possibly process and cope with all of this? I had no idea.
My medical team was wonderful – skillful, knowledgeable and very compassionate yet the anxiety overwhelmed me. I desperately needed help and then I found CCRAN.
I attended my first meeting just after chemo/radiation but before my life altering surgery. When it was my turn to speak, all I could do was cry. Filomena and the CCRAN members (all strangers to me) were so warm and caring – they really understood what I was going through because many of them were either on or had finished the same or similar journey. I knew that the help I needed would be found in this group. They shared, they cared and they let me know that they were there for me.
Make no mistake, CCRAN is not a “pity party” – I wouldn’t have stayed if that had been the case. CCRAN provides colorectal cancer research updates and is a place where you can get questions answered as well as share information and experiences. In addition, we have had terrific guest speakers who have addressed the physical, emotional and nutritional needs of colorectal cancer patients, caregivers and survivors.
I am now almost 4 years NED (no evidence of disease) – a survivor. I still find it hard to believe that I got through it all but I do know that the wonderful people and work of CCRAN made my journey easier to bear. I will forever be grateful.