Cancer is a Beast!

Published on 1 April 2024 at 11:21

5-weeks post colostomy reversal and hernia repair/abdominal wall reconstruction surgery.

 

Cancer is a beast! Never in a million years did I ever think I would have cancer. It just goes to show you that cancer does not discriminate. Many of my friends on here, old and new, that have had cancer I’m sure have had the same thoughts as me. How did this happen? What did I do wrong? The thoughts go on and on. Most of the time the answer is…Nothing! It just is what it is.

For me, I had the genetic mutation I had no idea I had, BRCA1 (BReast  CAncer gene). Even 23 and Me DNA testing did not identify it. A gene I got from my father who had prostate cancer, which I didn’t know I had until after I was diagnosed. By then it was too late to take any preventative measures.

I know I talk about my cancer diagnosis a lot. Some choose to put it behind them, some like me choose not to. Most women and those born with ovaries feel the same as I do, there’s just not enough education out there about ovarian cancer. That includes health professionals too.

I spent months in pain until it became life threatening and I had to have emergency surgery. That’s how I ended up with a colostomy bag that I carried around with me for 3 years. Ovarian Cancer took 75% of my colon and half of my rectum. In addition to all my female organs forcing me into early menopause at 45. Sounds fun does it? Not really.

Now I see myself as an Ovarian Cancer Advocate. I don’t want others to go through what I did. There are no screening tools for ovarian cancer. Yes, a CT scan can pick up a mass/tumor but in my case I did not have a mass so CT scans, vaginal ultrasound, none of that worked. There were quite a few “only ifs” after the fact, but I didn’t know and obviously neither did the numerous doctors I encountered.

My message to all of you, know the signs of Ovarian Cancer. Know your family history. Get genetic testing if you are able.

 

Now back to my, hopefully last surgery. This was my 4th open abdominal surgery since Dec 2020. About that! First, I was told I should accept the reality that my bag was going to be permanent. I was told my quality life was good, my cancer was gone, and that I should go live my life. All true statements. I was doing pretty much everything I loved to do and everything was great on the outside, minus the bag, but mentally it was killing me. I could not accept this being the rest of my life. Who was going to help me when I’m old with this? Will I be able to afford supplies forever? Will supplies always be available? All these thoughts would cross my mind. Yes, I am cancer free and I am so grateful to be alive. And yes, I can run, swim, bike, hike, all the things I enjoy doing. But everyday I looked in the mirror I was reminded.

Second, don’t accept anything. We've all heard the Serenity Prayer, right? Serenity wasn't what I was looking for, it was Courage! I refused to live like this forever. I wanted to be cancer free and colostomy bag free and I was determined to make it happen. I did have fears of my quality of life changing. After 3 years of not using certain bodily functions I was afraid I could be trapped in my house sitting on a toilet. Not a good life at all. I was willing to take the risk though.

*By the way, a bidet is a great investment!

Third, very important! It’s about finding the right doctor. I saw about 4-5 different doctors until I found the right one. I knew immediately she was the right one. I gave her copies of my medical history, she examined me and said, “when do you want to have surgery?”. Total confidence and with no hesitation, she was ready to do it. It took me 2 years to find her and get my insurance to give me a referral to her. So all I say is if you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way!

I’m now 5 weeks post surgery and I’m happy to say I am not bound to my house or toilet. The human body is so amazing. Now all I need to do is start running again. I’m not sure how my body will handle it, and I’m sure it will take a little time adjust. I do have some races planned this year and I’m ready to face whatever life throws at me.

Cancer is a beast, but so am I!!!

 

If you would like support my road to NYC marathon and donate to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition please click on link. I run for Team Teal to fight cancer!!!

https://p2p.onecause.com/tcsnewyorkmarathon2024/cindy-piccirillo

Big Thank You to my husband, kids, family and friends that have supported me through this roller coaster of a journey! Love you all 🩵

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Comments

Jenn R
21 days ago

Your story and journey is inspiring. I've always worried about my own health, with a dad who survived stage 3 Colon cancer and has a bag, along with my mom, who has lost part of her colon due to IBS issues and was told her bad was temporary, only to be told that it's permanent. I feel so much of this seeing it through the eyes of them and now with you as well. Thank you for being brave in sharing your story and being an advocate to help those impacted, not just directly but also indirectly. Hugs!