Tag Archives | ileostomy

Why Cancer Patients Should Advocate For Their Care, With Maureen Famiano


Why Cancer Patients Should Advocate For Their Care, With Maureen Famiano

Maureen Famiano

Maureen Famiano was originally diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer in 2010. Six weeks after colon resection surgery she learned her cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. During our conversation we discussed:

  • Why asking questions of your doctor and advocating for your care is so important.
  • The specific questions to ask your doctor after a cancer diagnosis.
  • The complications she experienced after her treatment and the choices she needed to make.
  • Why she chose to get a 2nd, 3rd and 4th opinion and why the 4th opinion was her best option.
  • How she evaluated her treatment options, including a possible permanent ostomy, and what she ultimately decided on.
  • The lifestyle changes she was required to make moving forward.

 

Links Mentioned In the WE Have Cancer Podcast

Connect with Maureen on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/maureen.famiano

WE Have Cancer Links

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From Ironman Triathlete to Colon Cancer Comeback, With Chris Snowardt

From Ironman Triathlete to Colon Cancer Comeback, With Chris Snowardt

From Ironman Triathlete to Colon Cancer Comeback, With Chris Snowardt

 

If you ask Chris Snowardt, he’ll tell you that colon cancer was the best thing to ever happen to him. He said it made him a better husband, father, friend and mentor.

During this podcast interview, Chris Snowardt talked about his roller coaster like experience with colorectal cancer. He talked about how he discovered his desire to participate in Ironman triathalons and competed in his first one in September 2010.

A little more than a year and a half later Chris was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer. Chris maintained his competitive spirit and after completing 5 weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatments he did a half Ironman — a 56-mile bike ride, 1.2-mile swim and 13.1-mile run. A month later he would undergo colon resection surgery.

Chris also talked about the emotional challenges that he dealt with during his recovery as well as the work he does with the Great Plains Colon cancer Taskforce.

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Hope Is What Gets Monica Hernandez, A.K.A. Whimsy The Blue Cancer Fairy, Through Her Tough Days

Hope Is What Gets Monica Hernandez, A.K.A. Whimsy The Blue Cancer Fairy, Through Her Tough Days

Hope Is What Gets Monica Hernandez, A.K.A. Whimsy The Blue Cancer Fairy, Through Her Tough Days

Monica’s Story

Monica Hernandez – Whimsy the Blue Cancer Fairy – was diagnosed with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) when she was 15. The affects of FAP has resulted in countless surgeries. Monica has had her colon and gallbladder removed and has a permanent ileostomy. When she was in her 30’s Monica decided to have a hysterectomy. She has also had thyroid cancer and she was diagnosed with an inoperable abdominal desmoid tumor in the summer of 2015.

Butterfly Moments

Monica has learned to cherish every moment, whether beautiful, happy or even painful. She says that every second she has is a gift; even her bad pain days are a blessing. Those are her Butterfly Moments

Monica’s Links

Whimsy the Blue Cancer Fairy on Facebook

Monica Hernandez’ blog – Dreamer of Hope, Whisper of Darkness

Other Recommended Podcasts

Sleep With Me Podcast

Sleep With Me Podcast

Mindfulness Mode Podcast

Mindfulness Mode Podcast

Meditation Minis With Chel Hamilton

Meditation Minis With Chel Hamilton

 

 

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Conquering Mt. Everest After Conquering Colon Cancer, With Jon Platten

Conquering Mt. Everest After Conquering Colon Cancer, With Jon Platten

Conquering Mt. Everest After Conquering Colon Cancer, With Jon Platten

Jon Platten was born and raised in Alexandria, Virginia. Just outside of Washington, D.C. I went to High School at TC Williams High School, if you’ve seen the movie, “Remember the Titans”, that is where I went to High School. I excelled in basketball, football and was terrible (horrific may be a better description of how I played) baseball. After high school and 1 year of college, I served an LDS mission to the California Ventura mission, returned to Washington DC and served on President Ronald Reagan’s Inaugural Committee as a national spokesman covering Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland. Since then I have earned a College Degree from Dixie State University, been in film work as an actor, appearing in 37 major motion pictures, TV series, and commercials and was in radio for several years. I am currently working in Accounting for a Fortune 500 retail company and part time as a basketball official for the Salt Lake Basketball Officials Association and assisting with teaching Aikido martial arts in advanced belts. I have been athletic all my life. Sports, martial arts and body building. Whatever would keep me physically active. Why do I tell you these things? because 1) to point out that cancer does not discriminate. It attacks anyone at any age, gender, race, any height, weight or physical background and 2) because at no point in my life did I think I would ever get cancer. It never crossed my mind. I have been an athlete all my life. I thought I was in excellent physical shape. Little did I know! So let the journey begin. In my body building years I got to the whopping size of 226.8 pounds. One brother called me“ no neck” and another nicknamed me ”mutant.” Around the middle of 2014 I started to notice that I was losing weight, not intentionally, and that I was having odd bowel issues. Still didn’t think too much of it. Around October I mentioned to my wife my issues and she suggested that I go to a doctor. I thought, “I’m a perfect specimen of health. I don’t need a doctor”. Well matters got worse and I was now down to about 196 lbs. So I went to see my family doctor who suggested that I have a colonoscopy. So here I am 55 years old, almost 56, and I am about to have my first colonoscopy. On January 9th 2015 I was scheduled and had the procedure. When I came out of the anesthesia my wife, who was sitting next to my bed was crying. (I thought to myself, “well, This can not be good”). The doctor said there was a mass and couldn’t complete the procedure. But they were able to get a small piece of the tumor for a biopsy. So we waited, and waited. I was a nervous wreck, my wife and daughter were nervous. I was reading everything I could find on the internet about possible causes. (And you know everything you read on the internet is true. Right?) Finally, on Friday January 16, 2015 I was called back by the doctor at 5:10 PM and heard the 3 words you never want to hear, “You have cancer.” My wife and daughter broke down, I was numb. I called my parents first. My wife called her family. I had Colo Rectal Cancer. After the staging it was determined that I was a stage 2, T-3. Now I love my family and friends, and they mean the best of intentions, but there are certain times when it can be detrimental to the situation to show up, say things that shouldn’t be said to someone who has just received ,”the word” to what is perceived as a death sentence. (At least that is what we thought at the beginning). Then the process of MRI’s, CT scans, CT/PET scans, Ultra sounds, a lot of drinking of oddly named liquids that make you glow in the dark. Then the fun begins. The “O” word. Operations. On February 9, 2015 at 8:50am, Dr. Foley (my surgeon) inserted the Porta cath in my chest, for chemotherapy and blood testing. Then the start of 28 days of radiation and 43 days straight of chemo from a bag and pump in a fanny pack hooked to the porta cath. And after completing the 28 days of radiation I got to experience the ringing of the bell. Along with ringing the bell 3 times we received the “Tibetan Prayer Flag Certificate of Honor” along with replicas of 5 flags that are taken in your honor around the world ending up on Mount Everest. June 22nd, 2015 I had my LAR (Low Anterior Resection) and in the hospital for 6 days. Unknown to us or the surgeon at the beginning of the LAR, there was an abscess above the tumor which caused major complications. So instead of a 90 minute procedure it took about 3 and a half hours. The surgeon said that it was so bad they almost had to stop and discontinue with the surgery and leave the tumor there. But they were able to complete the procedure with what I believe to be divine intervention. And along with the LAR surgery I was given an Ileostomy bag for 7 weeks. My band of brothers, those 7 weeks were mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting. Twice a week I had a home nurse come in to help with the Ileostomy, and take vitals each visit. I was now down to 162 pounds. I looked frail and unhealthy. Not something I was use to seeing. On August 10th I went in and had the ileostomy reversed and was in the hospital again for another 6 days. And then from October through December 2015, I had 8 sessions of Oxaliplatin chemotherapy. Where you sit in a nice comfy chair for 3 hours, watch TV or read a book and they pump what to me appeared to be 20 bags of liquid, even though it was only 6 or 7 into your port. Then I got to wear the bag and pump and fanny pack again for 3 days after each session. My dear wife, my eternal companion was with me at every doctor’s visit, chemo therapy session and every day in the hospital. I just finished my last chemo treatment on December 18, 2015. What a Christmas present. The things I tried my hardest at, was staying as physically active and staying as positive and upbeat as possible for my loved ones. As you know, that can be very difficult at times. But it CAN be done. My one big regret was that the doctor had told me that the cancer had been in my body for about 5 years. If I had gone in when I was 50, when I was suppose to go it may have been caught and taken care of before it turned into this big of an issue. Not as an official spokesman for cancer or colonoscopies but everyone I talk to that is turning 50 or is over 50 or has a family history of cancer and hasn’t had a Colonoscopy, I advise as earnestly as I can to get it done. I tell them my new motto: “Don’t wait” before it’s “Too late.” So what did I do to stay active during this entire process? Well, I have been playing basketball since I was 6 years old, so I did my best to run up and down the court during and after radiation and chemo and after my surgeries. My band of brothers, one thing people don’t understand who have never gone through cancer radiation and chemo is that chemo and radiation adversely affect your body, inside and out. You easily get fatigued and weak. But I tried my best. My basketball buddies would let us play 6 on 6. While the 5 would play 5, the 6th man and I would run the base line. Just so I could get some exercise in. Sometimes when I was feeling a little better I would dribble the ball down the court and pass to the closest player to me. Whether he was on my team or not. But darn it, I was exercising. I didn’t care. Even with the bag and pump on my hip, I was running. May I give you some advice if you attempt this? Do not reach to steal the ball leaning on the side opposite the side the pump is on, you WILL fall over. I did a couple of times. I couldn’t help myself, down I went like a sack of taters. I also attempted to lift light weights, mainly on my arms, because having a port in your chest limits what you can do with weights. But I tried whatever I could do to exercise. I remember a couple days after coming home from surgery, I tried to go for a walk with my wife around our neighborhood, but got about 30 feet from the house and had to return home. But I tried. The next night I got a little further, then further still. My band of brothers, I had to fight for every muscle movement. Finally I was walking a couple of blocks then around the neighborhood. I felt a personal accomplishment in my physical abilities. I was gaining strength and stamina. These are the little things that we had to celebrate. I had to stay positive. When I feel really good, I assist in teaching a martial arts class once a week for Aikido advanced belts. I have now been nominated to climb Mount Everest to Base Camp April 11-28, 2017 with the group Radiating Hope.

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Never Too Young for Colorectal Cancer, With Courtney Forget

Courtney Forget

Never Too Young for Colorectal Cancer, With Courtney Forget

Courtney Forget had digestive issues for about a year, but was busy planning a wedding to the love of her life, trying to buy their first home, and teaching art to elementary school students (K-5), so she just assumed her symptoms were due to stress. She went to her GP in September of 2014, and they wrote her off and said to eat a healthier diet.  Fast forward to the first week of the 2015 summer break and she’d been having severe abdominal pain and sleeping 80% of the day! She knew something wasn’t right and called and demanded a colonoscopy. After her visit, she was diagnosed with Stage 3c colorectal cancer. Married in October, bought her first house in May, and diagnosed with cancer in July. She was 29 years old.

Thankfully she was set up with amazing doctors at the Cancer Center In Gainesville, VA. She’s been on six weeks of chemo and radiation, she had her tumor removed and an ileostomy bag put in, and then chemo every other week for six months. She has two treatments left, and her ileostomy take down surgery in August, and life is looking pretty great! She started #CrayonsForChildrens, a program where people donate old and broken crayons and she melts them down into fun new shapes and donates the new and improved crayons to Children’s Hospital in DC and Falls Church. She had to take a year off from teaching to get better and She’s excited to return to the classroom this fall!  She also plans to volunteer at Children’s Hospital to work with young patients and will read stories to them and create art projects with them to brighten their day.

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