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Head Held High

Posted on October 08 2014

Head Held High
My name is Michele I am a wife and mother of three grown children. I am a registered nurse and small business owner in the midwest. I was disappointed, but not surprised that my cancer type was not listed on your site. I have a lower GI cancer. Not colon, not rectal.
I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Anal Cancer in February 2010. I asked my OB-Gyn doctor to check what I thought was a hemorrhoid flare up at my routine pap smear visit, and discovered it was actually two tumors. My constant sciatica was found to be caused by a golf ball sized tumor growing out of my sacral bone.
Not only was I diagnosed with a rare form of cancer; I had a rare form of metastasis located in my bone. After surgery to remove the sacral tumor I received simultaneous chemotherapy and radiation. I survived it and baffled them all when I went into remission; I had just passed my two-year anniversary of NED when it returned in my right lung. I have had more surgery, then more chemo and radiation. I am one year disease free as of this week! The thing about anal cancer is that it is a cancer that strikes “below the belt”. Not only is it rare, there is definitely an unwarranted shame attached to it. I overcame the shame and unwarranted humiliation and decided to fight the stigma. I did not have one risk factor when I was diagnosed. I thought I had a hemorrhoid and sciatic pain. I was wrong. My “well woman” doctor appointment saved my life!
My current goal is to raise awareness for not only anal cancer but all cancers that exist “below the belt”. People need to be educated. Doctors need to be screening patients. I am talking and I can’t shut up…I won’t shut up! My hope is that no one ever suffers from anal cancer and if they do they get early diagnosis and treatment.
I would have liked to have a support group…a real one for folks like me. If I had been diagnosed with breast cancer resources would have been crawling out of the woodwork for me. There seems to be a stigma associated with these “below the belt” cancers and resources for emotional support are scarce.
I started a blog that logs my entire story from diagnosis to today. My hope is to shatter the stigma and fight the loneliness that accompanies this devastating type of cancer. You can visit my blog titled I have Butt What?! My story was recently published into a book, "If You're Not Laughing, You're Dying" proceeds from each book go to cancer research and patient cancer support. I remain hopeful and walk on...head held high!

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