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Patient tips What I want other people to know about recurrence

What I want other people to know about recurrence

In August 2020, Ronda D. was diagnosed with stage 3b colon cancer. The colon cancer was located in the same place abnormal cells were detected a couple years prior. Here, she shares what helped her navigate the recurrence.

  1. The first couple weeks may feel like a whirlwind. When my doctor shared the news about the recurrence, I was in complete shock. I didn’t have time to process anything and felt like I was living in a place of disbelief and fear. Try to write down questions, do your research and focus on getting through one hurdle at a time.
  2. Give yourself space to unpack emotionally. Repeat after me: You didn’t do anything to cause a recurrence. Don’t blame yourself. It’s not your fault.
  3. Let your care team know if you're experiencing side effects, big or small. I experienced tachycardia from my initial chemo dosage. It felt like I was having a heart attack. With my care team’s help, we adjusted my treatment plan and dosage. Even if your symptoms feel small, speak up and ask for help.
  4. Don’t be scared to seek out a second opinion. When you receive a diagnosis, it can feel like you’re already behind in terms of a plan of attack against this foreign enemy in your body. I remember thinking, Would a second opinion slow down my progress? However, it’s vital to have a team working alongside you that you trust and feel good about.
  5. Lean on the people who love you most. I am a mom to a child who needs me, the daughter to a dad who needs me and the wife to a husband who needs me. My first thought was, What’s going to happen? No one can take care of them like I do. Although no one could love my son like I do, we had friends help out, and they were amazing. My husband Ed stayed home for three months to help take care of me and refused to let me go to any scans by myself. He even plugged a heating pad near my bed to help with my neuropathy and washed my hair. The truth is, you would do the same for the people you love the most if the shoe was on the other foot.Rhonda D colorectal cancer 3
  6. Consider giving back. Since my diagnosis, I have started volunteering with CTCA. Now, I’m able to connect with other families who may be navigating side effects like neuropathy, parenthood and a diagnosis.
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