You Knocked Me Down But I Got Back Up

by Allison RosenDecember 4, 2019View more posts from Allison Rosen

Dear Cancer,

Ever since I was a small child and had to be brought back to life following a severe asthma attack, I have known that I possess the instincts of a fighter. With that said, I never imagined that, at the age of 32, I would dealing with you.

You see, I worked for many years in a cancer research lab and knew more than the average person about Oncology. I knew to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and to promptly go to the doctor when things didn’t seem quite right. I also had Crohn’s Disease, so I was acutely aware of my bowel habits, certainly more than someone my age should. You were the last thing on my mind. I put off my annual colonoscopy by a few more months than usual because I selfishly wanted to go on a trip. It was on this trip, that you first made yourself known to me.

Now, I did know it was you; I just knew something was not as it should be. When I returned from the trip, I called and scheduled my colonoscopy for as soon as possible. My bowels habits were changing, I had lost weight, and there was blood in my stool. It also felt like food was stuck in me somewhere in my colon, things were just not moving right.

My doctor thought it was just severe constipation or maybe a minor bowel blockage. Little did I know it was you! For all I knew you had been growing inside me for some time but finally showed your true colors when I was out of town and the symptoms were too severe to ignore.

I tried to ignore you until my procedure was scheduled but you would not allow that, causing stress and worry. When procedure day came, I remember waking up after my procedure and my doctor telling me that there was something growing inside my colon. However, she clearly stated she did not think it was you but would have the pathology back in a few days.

Because she used your name, I was beyond scared and could not concentrate, until I got that dreaded call. My doctor asked me to come to her office to review the pathology results, and she never had done this before. It was at that moment that I knew you had decided to turn my life upside down. I was given the news about you in a dark isolated room, all by myself. At that instant, my life flashed before my eyes and memories popped in my head and it was then that I knew my life would never be the same.

I was all too familiar with you since I had worked in research for seven years. I had tunnel vision and realized that I needed to get opinions and tests to figure out how I was going to beat you. You see, there was no thought that you would or could kill me, only how I was going to get you out of my body so I could move on with life. I was single and just recently had the realization that it was time to find a good person and settle down. But, just then, at the most inopportune time, you came along. The next few days are a blur. I just know that luckily, I lived in Houston and amazing doctors were in my own backyard, and I had a lot of friends and support all around me at some of the best cancer institutions in the world.

I resolved, like a fighter, that you were not going to knock me down and out. No, you were just going to be a bump in the road. That road proved to not be as easy as I imagined, but I knew that one day I was going to be rid of you, and I was going to be proud to be a survivor. You were not going to take me; I had too much life to live. I had aspirations, goals, and dreams I still planned to accomplish. There were days I cried, days I laughed and days you caused me to be so exhausted that I did not want to roll out of bed. Through the good and the bad days I survived and thrived, some would say. I knew I needed help so I reached out to anyone my age who would listen or understand.

I got involved at my cancer hospital, MD Anderson, to get help. In turn, when I could, I decided to help others. What gave me the strength I didn’t know that I needed was helping others dealing with you.  Doing so only made me stronger and gave me a voice I had no idea I possessed. I turned into an advocate because of you, and have had the privilege to tell others that I beat you.

I turned my extreme emotions into my newfound passion.  I did not let you define me as a person. You tried your best, but you did not succeed. I turned a negative into a positive, and you helped me realize my real career goal was to assist others to know about preventing you. The journey I went on with you gave me a voice. As crazy as it sounds I used to be angry, but I want to thank you for making me the person I am today.

You tried your best. You tried every punch in had your arsenal. However, instead of knocking me down, you gave me a platform, which I will diligently use until the day I die.

Allison Rosen

7 year, Stage 2 Colorectal Cancer survivor

:-)