Pink Arrow Pride 2008 was the brainchild of Lowell’s football coach, Mr. Noel Dean. A football game was played, in rare pink jerseys, the sound of a thousand donated pink thunder-sticks was in the air, and the stadium was virtually a sea of pink. Through the work of numerous dedicated volunteers and the support of the community, The Pink Arrow Pride raised $93,000 for charities.
My article was published today in the Lowell Ledger along with a snapshot of me in 1992...I know, the hair! Below is the text for those of you who do not get the Ledger and have asked if I would post on my blog.
I am still continuing to fight! Yesterday I finished my last round of chemo before my liver resection which will take place September 8th. I have been told that surgery could last up to 8 hours because of the placement of one of my tumors. It is located in the caudate lobe between two main arteries. Unfortunatly this is the first day of school for the girls but they are showing unbelievable strength and I trust that God has a hand in that. I will then go back into chemo for another 6 rounds and as far as I am concerned move forward as a colon cancer survivor!
It will be 24 years ago this fall that I would be on the sidelines at Birch Field cheering on the Lowell Red Arrow varsity football team. As we all know, Lowell Football didn’t have the hype it does today but one thing was for sure, the entire Lowell community consistently showed up to pack the stands every Friday night. Whether the team had a winning or a losing season, the stands were always full. Being a cheerleader for a community like this will always hold a special place for me. Even though I would eventually move away from this community, I still consider Lowell my home.
On March 10th of this year my life would dramatically change and I would embark on a journey that has become both a blessing and a curse. I was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer with metastases to my liver.
Last fall I had been struggling with a somewhat irritating upset stomach which I just chalked up to being a busy mom in the heat of my busy season at work. After a visit to my primary care physician it was highly likely I would end up with my gallbladder out. The next day I would go in for an ultrasound but nothing was found. My PCP ordered a nuclear scan to get a clearer picture and that too came back normal. At this point I just told myself it was probably in my head and eventually the upset stomach would subside. I also was experiencing some blood in my stool but that had been happening for quite a few years and was told it was internal hemorrhoids, which are very common for us women over 40.
It would be another month before I realized that things were just not getting better. The upset stomachs were daily and becoming somewhat debilitating and the blood in my stool was increasing. My PCP suggested a referral to a Gastroenterologist and thought a colonoscopy should be ordered. I met with the gastro doctor and he didn’t seem to be too worried but thought a colonoscopy might at least give us some answers.
I would wake up from the colonoscopy to my worst nightmare. All I heard the doctor say was large tumor and colon cancer. Wait! What? Colon cancer? I am only 41 years old and have no family history. This can’t be! Unfortunately the photo of my colon put in front of me would validate what he was saying. It didn’t look normal at all. He said the mass had likely been growing for ten years and would have started as a small polyp. The next week would be a complete blur. Telling family and friends, going to and from the hospital for scans and blood work ups became overwhelming very quickly. The initial colonoscopy indicated I just had colon cancer, a scan later that week would reveal four tumors on my liver. Stage IV! It all happened so quickly.
The next month we would be inundated with cards, meals and many well wishes. I am still in awe of the blessings we have received the last four months. One of the most significant gifts was a card I received with the return address ‘Pink Arrow Pride’, it was a beautiful card written by Teresa Beachum extending a monetary gift from the Lowell community. Until this point I had tried not to get very emotional when opening cards but this one got me. We have supported Pink Arrow as a family in the past but never would I have imagined being a recipient. Even though we moved from away from Lowell it was apparent that this community still takes care of their own.
The last four months have been quite the journey. To date, I have undergone six rounds of chemotherapy and a colon resection to remove my tumor. The chemotherapy (as much as I hate it) is doing its job and shrinking the tumors in my liver. I am scheduled for my liver resection this fall which will remove anywhere from a half to a third of my liver, followed by more chemo. I am very positive about my prognosis and look forward to life as a survivor of colorectal cancer. PLEASE, if you are over 50 and have not had a colonoscopy, use my story as a reason to place the call and schedule one.
It was an honor to cheer at Lowell for my Red Arrows but it is even more of an honor to be cheered on by a community team that offers such profound support in so many ways. Thank you for ‘packing’ the stands for me. Proud to be a Red Arrow – always!