Proud Stage IV Survivor Story

One moment, I was a young busy mother of two boys, working full time as a Registered Nurse during a terrible pandemic; I was married, happy, successful, and optimistic for my future. The next moment, I was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer.

I was diagnosed in May 2021. My symptoms began with several months of vague abdominal pains. Doctors found a mass in my rectum along with seven liver mets and multiple probable lung mets (which later turned out to be benign nodules). I started my treatment plan with chemotherapy and had an excellent response; six of the seven mets in my liver were gone! I was subsequently treated with five weeks of radiation to the primary rectal site. Surgery followed – all carefully planned and carried out by my excellent surgeons. First was my bowel resection in December 2021, followed by the liver resection in January 2022. I spent that winter healing and then did “mop up” chemotherapy for six months, finishing in July 2022. My latest scans are clear, so I am now working hard to heal my body and mind, as well as my little family.

Perhaps it was an occupational skill, or perhaps a personal need, but I knew from the beginning how important it would be to be educated and have current, evidence-based information about this disease and its treatment options. Enter CCRAN! Having appropriate, vetted resources consolidated in one place was priceless. The need to arm myself with current medical literature on the disease further empowered me to have thoughtful and informed conversations with my care providers. The fantastic network of people whom I have met and the support I have received has been paramount to me.

This is why I feel the need to give back, pay it forward and be a source of help to others who, just like me, are diagnosed with this disease. I would like to use my training as a registered nurse, the knowledge and experience I have gained throughout this journey, and the cancer coach training and certification I have acquired from CCRAN to lead an early age onset colorectal cancer information/support group every third Sunday of the month from 7-9 p.m. Won’t you join me? Together, anything is possible!


Hayley Painter

Stage IV Survivor