Susan Snow - Colon Cancer/Ovarian
A Battle Well Fought
I fought a battle that I hope and pray most people will never have to fight. All the signs were there and when those three little words were spoken I was not surprised. “It is cancer” - who would have thought it would change your world completely. Life says cry when you hear you have cancer and I would have thought that would have been my reaction, but there is much to be said about the power of positive thinking added with a large dose of sense of humor. I did not allow myself the time or place to give in to negative thinking and whenever any friends, family members or doctors mentioned anything about my cancer I would contradict their statements indicating that the cancer was not there. I will never forget my doctor telling me while in hospital during my last operation that we would have to wait for the pathology to come back on the resected colon and if there is cancer there then there would probably be more chemo and I immediately told him that there would not be any cancer there. His words were “so you have been telling me....”. As my husband said - Susan is sick but it just hasn’t dawned on her yet.
I am not the first, or the last person for that matter, to conquer cancer, but I think people need to know that it is not all doom and gloom and miracles can happen if you are positive and truly believe. There is so much more to all of this than just the doctors and the treatments.
I was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in April 2006 - I was given 2 months to live - the cancer had completely blocked my colon - gone through my colon and was intertwined all throughout my intestines and up my back bone and in my ovaries as well. I had overlooked the early symptoms thinking that the blood in my stool was from hemorrhoids. I had a colonoscopy scheduled for May 3rd, but on April 18th (our 19th wedding anniversary as it was) I had a complete blockage and was ambulanced over to Trail where the diagnosis was made. Deep down, I was not surprised. I think I had known all along that it was cancer.
They opened me up and found that nothing could be removed because of the mass of it all and they removed my ovaries, gave me an illeostomy - and sent me for chemo, radiation and more chemo. Every day I tried to find something positive about cancer - whether it was just being able to get first in line for blood tests, a friend coming over for a visit brought smiles. I would say if it wasn't for cancer I wouldn't have had that visit.
Although I wasn't necessarily a back to nature or a "whoo whoo" type of person, I went to a naturopath and found what was best for me to eat and vitamins to take. I tried therapeutic touch (which was incredible)... and put my trust in my health care professionals and God and most of all - I listened to my body. Inside all of us is a physician and your body has the ability to cure many things if you get in touch with it. My body instinctively craved many of the foods that I now know are good for fighting cancer.
To make a long story short - after my fourth aggressive intravenous chemo treatment after my first surgery I was given a CT scan to check on the cancer and there was nothing there. It was completely gone - within the span of 2 months. We continued on with more oral chemo and radiation and a final surgery in December, 2006 where they opened me up to remove any remaining cancer - there was none. My illeostomy was reversed and the parts and pieces they cut from my colon to resect the colon were sent away for tests and it came back completely clear of cancer. Although it was not as easy as all of this sounds and the final outcome was positive (despite emergency room visits and hospitals in-between) - the main point is that the outcome was positive which is where it all starts. Somedays I question why it was that I was put through all of that and I truly believe it was to give others hope and for that I am truly blessed.
My grandfather died of colon cancer, and I guess I had heard that before, but I didn’t pay much attention to it. Knowing what we know now, all of my family should have been screened when we all hit 40 years of age. The rule-of-thumb is that members of the immediate family should get screened when they reach an age 10 years younger than their relative was when they were diagnosed with colon cancer. If only this great country of ours would look more into prevention then they do to treatment, it may have saved many lives and millions of dollars.
So many articles tell you to drink 8 glasses of water a day but they never tell you why. Well, now I know. I was not a water drinker and now that my ileostomy has been reversed and having gone through the education of the ileostomy, I am happy to report that all systems are go (so to speak). Just the mere fact that I am drinking more water, has not only been good for my bowels, but I no longer have dry cracked heels, and my skin is so much softer than it ever has been.
It is too bad that we are all so shy about talking about our bowels. More physicians should be asking their patients about their bowel movements and whether they have at least one a day, as I thought one a week was normal. School children should be required to have a water bottle at their desk and learn to like water. By the time you realize that you are thirsty you are already dehydrated.
On a positive note, many of my friends and family have since been screened for colon cancer, and as a matter of fact my brother was screened and they found early stages of colon cancer that had he not been screened could have turned into cancer.
I looked for the positives every day during my surgeries, treatment, and recovery and there were many.
Count Your Blessings - Wherever You May Find Them
When I was going through my radiation treatments in Kelowna, we stopped by the grocery store and there was a small plastic card in the parking lot on the ground that I picked up. (I don't make a habit of picking up garbage off the ground, but someone else's hand was leading me to it). I keep it with me now and it reads......
I said a prayer for you today
And know God must have heard.
I felt the answer in my heart
Although He spoke not a word
I didn't ask for wealth or fame
(I knew you wouldn't mind).
I asked for priceless treasures rare
Of a more lasting kind.
I prayed that He'd be near you
At the start of each new day
To grant you health and blessings fair,
And friends to share your way.
I asked for happiness for you
In all things great and small
But that you'd know his loving care
I prayed the most of all.
Just goes to show you that you can find blessings everywhere (even in the parking lot of Save-On Foods.)
Although you may hear terrible horror stories about our local health care, I want to tell you that for me it was quite the opposite. There are so many to thank.... From the ambulance drivers, to the nurses and physicians in all 4 hospitals that I was in, which would include Creston, Cranbrook, Trail, and Kelowna. A special thanks to Dr. Pasad in Creston for sending me the direction I was supposed to go, and for fighting to find me a bed that fateful night before diagnosis. To the wonderful staff, physicians and technologists at the B.C. Cancer Agency in Kelowna - we are all so lucky to have you. The Chemotherapy Department in Cranbrook who with Dr. OBrien, Val, and the girls provided such wonderful care to a scared chemo patient (with you there I soon lost all my concerns). To the ladies at Home Care - my saviors, my own physician Dr. MacKay who I attribute to my great success, who along with Dr. Guthrie went way beyond that extra mile and who worked with me closely on conventional and non-conventional treatments, to the girls in their office who I swear had wings on, to Dr. Paterson who provided nutritional and first-hand guidance. One can not forget Dr. Brenda Gill, my Naturopath, Mieshka Seastrom, my Therapeutic Touch Practitioner, as well as the girls in the lab at the hospital, the Emergency Room Staff, right down to the cheerful and kind housekeepers in the hospital. I was so impressed with everyone’s attitudes (except for one doctor in Trail that will remain nameless that thought spending much time on me would be futile because he presumed I only had a few months to live).
A perfect balance between conventional and non-conventional medicines led to my success. But there again, you get what you give and having a positive attitude I am sure helps in the treatment you get back.
The Angels In My Life
To my friends Jenny, Vicky, and Pat, who were but a few of my angels that helped me on the home front with everything from their delicious meals, to cleaning my home, to their wonderful visits. My rocks- my husband Gary and Son Micah, my Mom and Dad who were being strong with me, my brother Bill and sister-in-law Barb who were my life line. My niece Derra who arranged a team in the Walk for Life for me, my niece Courtney who tattooed herself with a cancer ribbon in my honor and my nieces Kristie and Chelsea who stood by me all the way as well. My Auntie Dody who with trials of her own was my support in Kelowna. Visits, cards, and well-wishes from the cousins were always fun and brought me smiles. And of course all of my friends and family close by and afar - Brenda who is more of a sister to me who I have known since Kindgergarten who tattoos herself with cherries for miracles for me, Lori and Kevin another of my oldest and dearest friends who were my Kelowna angels and there every day for me. For Dave & Margaret who had gone through this themselves who are more like our family than friends that came up immediately to help me organize myself after surgery. To Bev, Jim, and Sassi and all of our Kalispell friends sending long distance angels, Bob from Boise with his words of encouragement who had not long before gone through this very same thing and who continues the battle. You said being as strong as I was, it would take a year from diagnosis and you were right on. To Lori from Troy who I barely knew at the time - who sent me a card a week – I so looked forward to those cards. There are many, many more angels to list which would include the whole community of Creston who through the many churches placed me on their prayer chain. I thank you all and I thank God most of all.
"If Your Walking On Thin Ice - You Might As Well Dance"
A picture of Susan taken back in July, 2006. Around her waste is the infusion pump that delivered chemo through a porta cath in her chest. After her rounds of chemo at the Cranbrook Hospital that took approximately 3 hours, she would go home with the infusion pump which pumped chemo into her chest for another 48 hours.
Click on this butterfly to read what Susan felt was important in her winning her battle with cancer
“God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but He did promise, strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way.”