My journey with cancer began on March 7, 2014. It really began 10 years prior as a polyp that developed into cancer. Symptoms were probably present in 2013 but I never imagined it could be cancer. All my life I prayed to God “Please never let me be inflicted with cancer and don’t let me lose my mind with Dementia/Alzheimers. I knew I wasn't afraid to die, but I was definitely afraid to suffer. This particular disease scared me as a child. The physical deterioration of this disease is the most horrific eyesore anyone could ever experience. I have lost countless loved ones to cancer so it was very clear to me, even as a child, that cancer was evil.
There are many ideas about how I obtained cancer but I don’t feel like anyone knows really… I am convinced that because doctors are scientists they must always have an answer because they simply can’t or wouldn’t admit when they don’t know. I was told that it’s hereditary which pissed me off because I’m, adopted and I don’t know my biological history. Then there are the theories everyone has; It’s your diet, no it’s the environment, no it’s stress, or, or, or!!!!! Truth is, it’s probably all of those things. It’s funny how I found out about all of the things that aren’t good for me now after getting cancer. Foods that are high in fructose, foods that contain nitrates like processed foods and junk food are life threatening. Stress is probably the #1 killer and is what I actually lived with all the time. Processed food and junk food are what I ate all the time because I was too tired or too busy or too stressed to cook. Those elements aren’t good for anybody healthy or unhealthy. Financial stress is a recurring theme in my life and being a sandwich child, taking care of my parents and my children, were all added environmental stressors. I am ALWAYS the person in the middle. There was never any ME time….and oddly enough there is still never any ME time.
The discovery of my blood loss really began in 2013 when I tore my labrum on my right arm. It was determined that I would need surgery, as I did the pre-surgical testing, it was realized that my Hemoglobin was extremely low and in the single digits. The doctor felt that my numbers were dangerously low and recommended that we reschedule the surgery and have me see the Hematologist first.
After my visit with the hematologist, he confirmed that my hemoglobin and iron were dangerously low and recommended iron fusions intravenously for me immediately. We assumed this was all due to being anemic and agreed that I will have iron treatments once a week until the surgery and resume treatments after. This was the plan….I was able to move forward with my surgery and upon recovery, I was instructed to continue with my iron treatments for 12 sessions once a week for twelve weeks. I think I kept maybe 5 sessions and did not continue simply because of life. It was recommended that I have an Endoscopy also to check for any blood loss. The Endoscopy revealed that I had an Ulcer with H-Pylori which is a bacterial infection that required antibiotics for 3 weeks! After the results of this test, the doctor recommended a colonoscopy but it didn’t seem urgent. I went ahead with my shoulder surgery and figured I would deal with the colonoscopy afterwards. Of course I didn’t. I was only 39 years old and since colonoscopies are give at age 50 I thought I had time.
As months went on I began to feel really tired, but more than tired, fatigued. I was experiencing this burning sensation under my diaphragm and constant gas. The gas didn’t subside for hours accompanied by extreme bloating to the point I looked 4 months pregnant. This feeling would last for hours! I ate ice all the time which revealed my anemia and low iron. I was unable to sleep through the night, feelings of anxiety and uncontrollable worry. Most importantly, I was under extreme stress and gained about 20 pounds. I had an enormous sugar craving, eating sleeves of Oreos and Chips Ahoy cookies or an entire Entenmann’s Butter Loaf pound cake in a few sittings. I would even eat bowls of Frosted Flakes cereal with ADDED sugar on top. My coffee needed the already incredible sweetened International Delight creamer along with 3 more teaspoons of sugar. Absolutely, I drank a whole 2 liter of Sprite every other day. It was only later that I found out that sugar actually feeds cancer! And then suddenly without warning I began to lose weight andI caught a cold that would not go away.
Finally, I sought out a new doctor for the cold who after listening to what I was experiencing, suggested that I have all new blood work done with his office along with a full physical. The results from the blood work showed that even with all of these iron treatments, my hemoglobin was still in the single digits. After a year of these treatments, we all agreed I should be doing better. They suggested I have another endoscopy, I did and it revealed that I had an ulcer with H-Pylori again and I should have an appointment with a Gastroenterologist. I was put on medication and a new diet which eliminated acidic foods from my diet.
My new doctors scheduled appointments for me for everything, from a Gastroenterologist to a Hematologist. Ironically 2 weeks from the date of my physical I had some bleeding. I went to the bathroom to pee and there was a toilet filled with bright red blood. No pain, no discomfort, no warning before, I just had to pee. I thought to myself, my cycle must be on, but wait it just went off. So I proceeded as if I had a period. I went to the bathroom to change the sanitary napkin and it was white as snow. Nothing!!! No blood, no spotting nothing! Now I am thinking, where the hell did the blood come from??? Oh my God, was it rectal bleeding? My stomach was in knots, my heart was racing, my mind was unclear and I could not think straight. I immediately called my Principal at the time who had this issue before. She recommended that I call the doctor immediately. I called the GI physician that I was supposed to see in 2 weeks and asked if I could see her immediately. This was Tuesday, March 4, 2014.
The doctor called me back and said come in immediately. During intake she asked me many questions about my medical history, I could not answer because I am adopted and I don’t know who my biological parents are nor did I know their medical history. She conducted what is called an anoscopy, an in-office rectal exam which revealed bleeding and something else that the doctor could not identify. She then recommended a colonoscopy the same week, Friday, March 7, 2014. I went in thinking I have hemorrhoids and everything will be okay. AS I came through recovery, the doctor came to my bedside and said “Mrs. Nathaniel you have a tumor located in the Cecum part of your colon. It appears to be a carcinoma and will need to be removed by surgery immediately. I cannot tell you the staging until the tumor has been sent to pathology.” That day my life changed forever. I was officially diagnosed with cancer, the one thing I had prayed to God not to give me.