Colon cancer stage 4: sounds awful and scary; it is both.
There are three parts to this post.
Colon Cancer Stage 4
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- I: my personal story with colon cancer stage 4
- II: what is stage 4 colon cancer?
- III: I’m not a doctor, but this is why A Gutsy Girl is so important
Start from the beginning or go to whatever section is most interesting and applicable for you.
Part I: my personal story with colon cancer stage 4
My mom came to California to visit us over Halloween in 2017. I noticed she was calling and checking in on Dad often (he didn’t come; stayed home instead). But I never thought anything of it.
She returned home to Minnesota, and within a couple weeks life changed forever.
It was evening one night and I heard the phone ring, saw “Mom” pop up and answered. I rarely answer my phone, but if Mom called, I always did. Because she rarely called unannounced; we would text daily instead.
So I answered, and I remember being in our stairwell when she told me the news as she cried.
It’s Dad. He’s in the hospital. And it’s not good. They think it’s cancer, and we’ll know more soon.
Dad had his colon removed during that hospital stay because he was already at a stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis.
Life as we all knew it changed in a flash.
Part II: what is stage 4 colon cancer?
First, what is colon cancer in general?
I think this is an important place to start because for his whole life my dad was told, “It’s just IBS.”
So here’s the difference between IBS and colon cancer.
In fact, I have an entire post dedicated to IBS or Colon Cancer HERE.
Now, beyond that, here are some things to know about stage 4 colon cancer:
- There are 3 categories upon diagnosis people are placed in based on how far the cancer has spread. They include:
- Localized: There is no sign that the cancer has spread outside of the colon or rectum.
- Regional: The cancer has spread outside the colon or rectum to nearby structures or lymph nodes.
- Distant: The cancer has spread to distant parts of the body such as the liver, lungs, or distant lymph nodes.
- The average 5-year survival rate of the above include:
- Localized: 90%
- Regional: 71%
- Distant: 14%
- Risk factors for colon cancer include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Physical inactivity
- Certain types of diets
- Heavy alcohol use
- Older than 50
- A personal history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer
- A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
- A family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
- Having an inherited syndrome
- Having type 2 diabetes
- Treatment options are generally: surgery and chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hepatic artery infusion, ablation or embolization, and Palliative care
And then, of course, there is nothing after stage 4.
It’s not pleasant to have to re-live what happens next, but this is reality. Is it everyone’s reality who is diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer? No. But it is for many.
After stage 4, here are things that usually happen:
- Extreme fatigue; sleeping most the day away
- No appetite
- Awful pain
- Varied breathing patterns, oxygen tanks typically involved
- Inability to get comfortable
All of the above I experienced watching my dad at colon cancer stage 4 and beyond.
The culmination was a year ago today when my mom messaged me at 4:30am to tell me his breathing had really slowed.
She called around 5am to let me know he passed.
You want to see what’s real and raw about getting to this point and experiencing it first-hand? As I sat across from my dad’s hospital bed that morning, I cried as I wrote in my journal,
Flashes of so many memories and songs I think of for you flood my mind. I’ll never get over losing you at such a young age. We had so many things to do together still. Time will make me angry for all that will never be BUT I promise to still give God all the thanks and glory that He gave me You as my father.
Part III: I’m not a doctor, but this is why A Gutsy Girl is so important
After my dad passed, it wasn’t so long when I could truly feel deep down that A Gutsy Girl was my life’s mission.
I wrote a Leaky Gut book, whose final manuscript was due during the time of his passing. Not a coincidence.
And then in November after his passing, I traded everything else in for this, A Gutsy Girl full-time.
All of these things find me standing (actually, sitting!) here today honestly telling you that this is exactly where I’m supposed to be.
As I creep towards 2,000 posts published on this website, I’d be lying to you if I didn’t tell you that criticism is always looming.
What do I know anyways? I’m not a doctor or an RD. Am I even “legit?”
But let me tell you…..this is what I know for sure.
I am qualified beyond the greatest of qualifications.
There is no medical degree which is more equipped to handle A Gutsy Girl than I am.
And this is why…..
His whole life, I told Dad, “Eat a veggie or two. It won’t kill you.”
With a bum tum, I changed my life – diet and lifestyle – secretly hoping that anyone who knew me personally might follow suit seeing directly how my life changed from it.
When something wasn’t right, I saw a doctor.
I told Dad to see a doctor, eat better, stop smoking, all of it because when I saw bottles of OTC digestive junk (i.e. Pepto and the like) in his bathroom cupboard, I knew he needed to make a change.
Every last thing I do, teach, and preach (my 3 pillars to ultimate gut healing) are things that could have made a massive difference in my dad’s life. By the time he reached all the medical doctors and therapies at stage 4, it was too late.
Quick side note
Before you continue reading this to think I’m just one judgey B of a daughter, please trust me when I say that looking back I also see this. And I wrote about it on World Cancer Day when I stated,
For years I harped on my dad. When I would come home from California, I’d tell him to stop eating junk, eat an egg or vegetable, stop smoking, see a doctor, and on and on and on.
Literally. You name it, I harped on him for it. To my defense, it was truly an act out of love.
He brushed it all off. Up until the day he died he never changed. In fact, it’s one of the things I loved most about my dad.
And yet it frustrated me. Why take all the Pepto, laxatives, and other gut masks if you weren’t going to change anything? I mean, to me, it only made sense.
But not to him.
The lesson I learned from it all is that people don’t change because of your desire.
People only change due to their own desires. And the harping, criticizing, shaming, blaming, fearing, etc. will do nothing except maybe drive you further from them and the intended action you wish for them to take.
Look, the reality is that I am so passionate about gut health because of things like gut healing and then Colon Cancer. We must be more proactive vs. reactive, and I’ll never stop preaching it.
But if there is one thing I could go back in time and do, as it relates to gut health and my dad it would be that I didn’t waste the time harping. I embraced this fully during the last several months of his life. And for that I am grateful.
A Gutsy Girl serves to EMPOWER you, not diagnose you.
You want to know how to start an elimination diet? HERE you go.
Interested in understanding the difference between prebiotic foods and probiotic foods? Great. I’ve got ya covered HERE.
Trying to determine what on God’s green Earth that rash around your nose is? Oh, well maybe it’s Perioral Dermatitis.
Think your gut is leaky, but you’re looking for more information about what the heck a leaky gut even is? You could start HERE.
I mean, on and on and on I have gone, continue to go, and will go my entire life.
Because I know the secret.
And that secret is prevention vs. intervention.
Stage 4 colon cancer is intervention.
Having a bum tum, doing some initial research, and keeping a 90-day food journal is prevention.
Prevention is my three pillars to ultimate gut health and healing; ultimate health and healing in general. I devised these pillars and didn’t need a medical degree to arrive at them in order to help women worldwide.
No, what I do does not require a medical degree or a certified RD status.
It requires the wisdom of personal experiences (Yes, I have been diagnosed with all of these at one point or another: Colitis, SIBO, “adrenal fatigue,” “leaky gut,” Perioral Dermatitis, a low-functioning thyroid).
And it requires hundreds of hours (thousands, actually) of diligent research, studying, reading, and writing about the body in its entirety. It also requires the ability to put forth otherwise complex information into digestible pieces that the everyday woman can consume. Last time I checked, no one is Googling “IBD” in order to decipher medical terms, codes, and jargon.
And finally, it requires an insane amount of passion for the prevention for one more person to LIVE. And not just to survive but to thrive.
I have all of the above and then some.
And I have the most important piece, the passion part, because of my dad.
You want to start somewhere today?
You can. And you should! Stop listening to everyone debating different gut healing diets.
You must know up front that their viewpoint will always be the “right” viewpoint because they are smarter than Sally Joe next door or they have a higher medical degree.
Lean in and listen very carefully.
IT DOESN’T MATTER.
Seriously, it doesn’t matter.
Here is exactly what you need to do:
- Get the right diagnosis.
- Apply the right diet conducive to and for that diagnosis.
- Focus, with all your energy, on lifestyle.
When you do these things and crowd out all the extra noise and chaos, you’ll…..
Heal your gut. Heal your life.
Love you, darling.
(And love you, forever and ever, Dad.)
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You will heal. I will help.