My Story

By Howard Oatis

 

Well, I'll start off by saying that I am a 38 yr. old Black Male who was diagnosed with Colonal-Rectal as well as Liver Cancer at age 35. No one would expect ME to have Cancer, no way!!! But it turned out to be yes way!

 

I remember having stomach problems in my 20's, but I never thought nothing of it! I was in the ARMY so I got my regular check-ups, no problem. So I kept putting it off until I couldn't take the stomach pain and irregular bowel movements. At that time, I finally went to the Doctors office to see what was going on. This is when I let my family know that I had to get all these tests. Next thing I know is that I'm getting referred to the big hospital for more testing.

 

Anticipating the outcome was very scary. So, my GI doctor calls and tells me that I need to come in ASAP. At this appointment I needed to get the colonoscopy. Now this appointment was rough!!! The Colon Cancer I had wouldn't permit the camera to ease through. Uh-oh, I look up and now i have a whole team of doctors in the exam room. Now I'm really scared!!! So, the outcome was... the cancer was the size of a grapefruit (Dr.s words)!!!! What, I said!!!! Oh, no I said!!! Then I broke down and cried. What terrible news. So now all my questions for the doctors come. Where did it come from?, How long have I had this?, Am I gonna live?......Doctors reassure me of the survival rate then give me my options. Whew! Since it was Stage 3-4, they immediately put me on high doses of Chemo (even had the take home drip , which was hard to sleep with) and High doses of radiation for months to try and rapidly shrink the cancer. The idea was to shrink the cancer, then cut it out, and hopefully reattach my intestine so I wouldn't need a colostomy bag for the rest of my life. Thank you JESUS!! It worked!!! Now, we are at the point of getting ready for surgery. By the way, I was still working all the way up to surgery date. Lots of support from my family and co-workers.

 

 

Okay, the doctors determined that its time for the first surgery. They told me everything that could go wrong, which was scary! Then they give me the positives. I gave them the consent to operate to save my life. First surgery: They cut me from my belly button to my private parts to cut 1 foot of the diseased intestine, gave me a Illiostemy bag until I healed up enough to reattach my intestines. The Illiostomy bag is no fun, but by the time I got pretty good at changing and cleaning it, it was time for the next surgery(about three months)!! Healing successful!!! Now it was time to reattach my intestine that was sticking out of my side... Yaaay!!! Doctors said that the surgery was a success and relieved me of some stress. I'll tell you what, dealing with cancer really changes your outlook on life and ages you mentally.

 

I'm glad I had my whole family and all my friends rooting for me. It really helps. You can't do it without  support.

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