Michael Hicks via Crowdrise
July 05, 2014
BENEFITING: COLON CANCER CHALLENGE FOUNDATION
ORGANIZER: COLON CANCER CHALLENGE FOUNDATION
EVENT DATE: Nov 02, 2014
My name is Michael N. Hicks and I'm rasing money for this foundation to honor and support my sister Donna Hicks Judkins who is a 10 year Stage 3 Colon Cancer Survivor.
Here is her story taken from her blog djudkins.tripod.com.....................
My Cancer Story
This is the story of how I discovered I had colon cancer. I hope that by sharing my experiences I can help others in some way. I will try to keep it updated (check the end of this page) as I go in for various checkups. I don't talk about having cancer anymore because it is gone from my body but it remains on my mind most of the time.I hadn't been to a doctor in about two years (I even put off the annual gynecological visit). I was never sick and didn't feel bad so I just didn't think about going to the doctor. I decided at the beginning of 2003 (I turned 36 on January 13th) that I should start taking care of myself better so I made an appointment with my Obgyn. I could get in to see a nurse practitioner within the week so I decided to go see her. Part of the exam is getting your finger pricked to see if you are anemic, which I was. Even though I'm a vegetarian I had never been anemic, not even while I was pregnant with both my children (being anemic during pregnancy is very common). My nurse practitioner sent me down to the lab for more bloodwork to see if she could figure out what the reason was for my anemia. They discovered I have an alpha thalassemia trait (which has nothing to do with anything, it can just cause you to be a little anemic). She wanted me to follow up with my primary care physician.
I called my primary care physician and wasn't able to get in to see her for a physical for 3 months. I decided to see another nurse practitioner because I could get in to see her within two weeks. My nurse practitioner was very thorough, did more bloodwork and found I was still anemeic. She sent me home with iron pills to help boost my red blood count. She also gave me a hemocult test (stool sample test) to take home just to "rule out" bleeding in my stool. Well, it turned out there was microscopic bleeding in my stool and I would need to see a gastroenterologist.
I went to see a gastroenterologist - first he did an endoscopy and didn't find anything. I went back the following week (April 2nd, 2003) and had a colonoscopy. He removed 5 polyps and said he saw a mass that he couldn't remove. It would have to be surgically removed. For some reason I immediately thought cancer and he said there was a 50/50 chance that it was cancerous. He took a biopsy of it and we would know the results in a few days.
I met with a surgeon right away because it was a Wednesday and I couldn't wait through the weekend to find out what the mass was. We met with the surgeon on Thursday afternoon. He was going on vacation the following week but said he could do the surgery on Saturday. In the mean time I had to go in on Friday and have a barium enemia so they could pinpoint the location of the mass in my colon.
I had surgery on Saturday, April 5th. They removed the tennis ball sized tumor and 22 lymph nodes, they also removed my appendix because the tumor was where the small intestines meet the colon (large intestines). The appendix is in that area. They had to send the mass and lymph nodes to the pathologist who would then see if it was cancer and then "stage" the cancer (tell how far along it was). I would not hear from them until Tuesday evening. I had a lot of recovering to do in the mean time.
Tuesday evening the doctor came in to give me the news, I had Stage 3 (T3, V2, N1, M0)(check the link below for explanation). It was really scary - I cried a lot, so did everyone else. I felt hopeless. The diagnosis of cancer is never easy, and not knowing what Stage 3 means or any of that other stuff made it harder. I had no idea what to think until the oncologist came in to see me.
They had an oncologist (from my doctor's group) come in to talk with me about the diagnosis and treatment. She said they got it all and they would recommend chemotherapy as a followup, just to make sure they got it all and there were no more cells lingering around. I really don't remember all the conversation we had or even the questions we asked. I had family and friends with me so there was a lot of information to digest that night.
I continued to recover, walking up and down the hospital halls. I was able to go home on Friday. At home I had more time to recover.
The following week I went to the oncologist's office and saw the doctor who was recommended by my surgeon. He gave me the cold, hard facts about the cancer ... statistics, treatment options, short-term side effects of chemo, long-term side effects of chemo, followup care, etc. Needless to say, it was overwhelming.
I had a CT scan, as a baseline to be compared with another CT scan after chemo. It showed an area by my incision that was suspious so I had another CT scan. It stilled showed the same area but my doctor didn't seem concerned about it. He said we would follow it with my next CT scan after chemo.
I started my chemo on May 8th. It was CPT11/5FU/Leucovorin, two weeks on (once a week) and one week off (though I still had to go to the doctor for blood work on my week off) - for 16 treatments. Standard treatment for Stage 3 colon cancer is just 5FU/Leucovorin, so adding the CPT11 was being more aggressive because of my age. The treatments usually lasted a total of 4 hours. I would go in and wait to be seen by a nurse. I would see the nurse and give blood that they processed right there in the office. I then waited for a room to see the doctor, nurse or physicians assistant. Though sometimes I just had to see the nurse or PA, the doctor always stopped by and saw me too. Once I got in a room this was the time to go over my blood work, have a physical exam and let them know what had been going on all week. Then it was off to wait for a chair in the chemo room - a room with lots of chairs where people were sitting around getting chemo, fluids, whatever they needed. There I would have an IV put in my arm and start all the premedications (to help with all the chemo side effects), then the chemo - this all took about 2 hours so I got to know the nurses in the chemo room very well!
The first 3 weeks were the hardest, I was really sick and thought to myself that I wouldn't be able to do this for 16 weeks - I vomited for a day or two and then just was wiped out for the next few days, then I had to start all over. It was miserable and I was discouraged. We finally got my premeds and after meds figured out and I guess my body got used to the chemo a little more so it got easier. Though the medications for all the side effects made me tired and feel groggy.
I continued with chemo and had a 11 treatments with the CPT11. Then my body couldn't take anymore of the more aggressive treatment. I was hospitalized twice for a fever and dehydration during this time. The last 5 treatments were with 5FU/Leucovorin, which is the standard treatment for Stage 3 colon cancer. I tolorated that a little better but by now the cumulative effects of the chemo were wearing me down.
I am happy to say I finished chemo on October 17, 2003!!!!I had a follow up CT scan in November 2003 and it showed a "fatty" area around my liver which seems to be common and all else was clear.
I started this webpage when I found out I had cancer so my day-to-day dealings with chemo started in my Cancer Journal 2003 (Link Below).
My physical in January 2004 showed my thyroid not functioning as it should so I was on synthroid for awhile which regulated it. As of August 2004 my thyroid began to over function. Now I'm off the synthroid and my thyroid is functioning fine on it's own! I had a followup colonoscopy in April 2004 and had two noncancerous polyps removed and won't have to go back for another one of those for 2 years.
So far all other tests have been clear so I am NED (have No Evidence of Disease)! I will have my next oncologist's visit and a colonoscopy in the spring 2006!I had my big two-year mark in October 2005 - the next one will be my five-year mark in October 2008!2006
I had my colonoscopy in March 2006. They removed a few polyps that were precancerous...I will go back in two years for another colonoscopy.
I went to see the oncologist in April 2006 - all was fine. My thyroid problem was finally figured out - I have hashimoto's thyroiditis (an inflammation of the thyroid gland that frequently results in decreased thyroid gland function - this disorder occurs most commonly in middle-aged women and is caused by the reaction of the immune system against the thyroid gland) so I will be taking synthroid for that. I also have borderline high blood pressure and am on Toprol for that.
I went to the oncologist again in October 2006 - all the bloodwork came back normal. I also had a CT scan and those came back clear!!!!!
I have had two check ups this year with the oncologist and all is fine there. My blood pressure and thyroid have been kept under control with medication. My cholesterol is high so I was put on lipitor which didn't work and now have me on Zocor and I will be checked in February 2008 to see if it is working. I will have my next colonoscopy in March 2008.2008
I have had various check ups and found out the zocor is keeping my cholesterol level normal. I'm still taking high blood pressure and thyroid medication. I had a colonoscopy and they didn't find a single thing!!! Because they had found precancerous polyps two years ago, I will need to have another colonoscopy in 2 years (2010). I went to my oncologist and have been given a clean bill of health - CANCER FREE. It has been 5 years since I finished chemo - yay!
The journey continues.....
COLON CANCER CHALLENGE FOUNDATION wrote -
The Colon Cancer Challenge Foundation has been working in New York City since 2003, raising awareness of colorectal cancer, funding screening programs for the uninsured, and providing much needed funds to young investigators who are committed to finding a cure for colorectal cancer.
More than an estimated 51,000 Americans died from colon cancer this past year. When you joinTeam Colon Cancer Challenge you join the fight against colorectal cancer and help us spread the word that colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable with early screening.
Each member of Team Colon Cancer Challenge has pledged to Make Their Miles Count by raising funds to support the Colon Cancer Challenge Foundation’s mission of a World Without Colorectal Cancer.
The Colon Cancer Challenge Foundation launched Team Colon Cancer Challenge in 2010 to:
- Encourage colorectal cancer survivors to incorporate exercise into their everyday lives as a way to significantly reduce the rate of recurrence,
- Provide a grassroots opportunity for colorectal cancer survivors and their family members to raise awareness and funds for colorectal cancer in their community,
- Offer those who have lost a loved one to colorectal cancer a positive and effective channel for their rallying cry against colorectal cancer.
Team Colon Cancer Challenge has raised more than $350,000 in support of efforts to raise awareness of colorectal cancer and the importance of early screening, prevention, and research.
For more information on joining Team Colon Cancer Challenge please visit coloncancerchallenge.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.