My name is Molly. I am now 40 years old. When I was 29 years old and pregnant with my third child I was diagnosed with stage 3C colon cancer. Here is my story.
In August of 2008, I ate a bigger dinner and had extreme stomach pain. My dad is a doctor and after this happened several times, I went to the ER because the pain was so bad. They performed an ultrasound and told me that I probably had a ruptured cyst. I went home and the pain continued but only if I ate a big meal. I found out I was pregnant that fall. During the beginning months of my pregnancy, I wasn’t really gaining weight because it hurt when I ate too much. When I ate very little, I was symptom free, so that’s what I did. I saw a gastro doctor and they pretty much dismissed my symptoms. Because I was pregnant, I felt like no one wanted to get medically involved.
So late December 2008, I was getting progressively worse, I was super thin, and just not feeling right. After a night of pain, I went back to the ER. My dad’s friend, a surgeon, told me he was going to get to the bottom of it. So, I had an MRI and it revealed a mass on my colon. I was then scheduled for surgery at 16 weeks pregnant. The surgery went as well as it could. My son survived and they were able to remove the mass. When my results of the biopsy came back, I was told that I had stage 3C colon cancer. The cancer had spread to 11 of 30 lymph nodes that they removed. My world was flipped on its head and it was all an unimaginable nightmare. I was young and healthy and pregnant on top of that.
I was then sent home on Christmas Eve from the hospital and it was all so surreal. It was a nightmare that I desperately wanted to wake up from. I focused on healing and waited for my body to heal from surgery. I saw an oncologist and, because I was pregnant, I had to come up with a plan that felt good for me. For colon cancer, you are treated with two types of chemo. With the help of my oncologist, I decided to only do the lesser chemo for 3 months and then be induced to have my son at 35 weeks (between my every two-week treatments), then continue my last 3 months of treatment with the harsher treatment plan.
I had a port put in and began treatment February 18, 2009. I was hooked up to chemo in the oncologist’s office for several hours, then came home and a nurse would come to my house to hook me up to chemo at home for 48 hours. This happened every other week. It was all hard. Every treatment was too much to bear, but I went through each one step at a time. It was hard going in as my pregnant belly grew.
On May 7, 2009 I was induced at 35 weeks to a perfectly healthy baby boy. His lungs were fully developed and he weighed 6 lbs 2 oz. I was so grateful. The following week, I continued on the second half of my chemotherapy, now adding in the harsher chemo. I was much more sick with this one. I couldn’t drink cold things because it hurt my throat and my hand and feet were super sensitive also. This was my biggest side effect.
Just before my 30th birthday I finished treatment. My doctor removed my port because I hated it so much. I’m not sure that this was protocol, but I was so grateful to have it out and mentally having it out helped so much.
I continued to visit the oncologist every few months, then 6 months, then year until I made it to 7 years out. I was then considered cured!
This is my cancer story with mostly the just the facts. There are so many layers to the whole thing and many other hiccups in the road to be where I am now. I used to worry that cancer would take my life, then I worried that it would define my life. I am so grateful to God that it doesn’t define me nor my life. There is life after cancer. It is a part of my story, but not my whole story. I went on in June of 2014 to have my
fourth child. My husband and I always wanted 4 kids and she was a definite gift and marker of a new life chapter that was no longer dictated by cancer. My husband always said to me from the beginning that what God was doing in my life was all that mattered. He told me that statistics didn’t matter and that God decided my destiny.
After having cancer, I gained a greater appreciation for living life to its fullest. I try to treat my body really well through diet and exercise. I try to live my life to the fullest and enjoy every moment.