Diana Welch’s Story
In March of 2012, following a colonoscopy, I received a phone call from my surgeon. After a quick and cordial greeting, I was told I had stage IV cancer with metastases to the liver. After six months of horrific abdominal pain, finally an accurate diagnosis was made, but not one I wanted to hear. There is no history of colon cancer in my family, though I’m still waiting for some family members to get their colonoscopies.
Dealing With a Diagnosis
Honestly, my first thought was, “I am going to die.” When you hear those words, panic sets in. I was on the phone with my doctor for a full 10 minutes and I really couldn’t tell you what else was said, other than delivering that devastating news. After pushing the initial thought out of my head, I specifically remember telling myself, “You know, there are lots of people that have cancer that beat it. I can be one of them.” It takes work and strength, but I don’t let my mind wander to that place very often.
Telling friends and family about my diagnosis was very difficult. In fact, with the initial diagnosis, my husband was tasked with telling our close friends and family. Upon my second diagnosis, he again made the phone calls to parents, but I was able to tell my friends about the new situation. It’s interesting to see how people respond. Some are silent, some want to take over and do everything for you, some seem to fall off the face of the earth and some have become awesome friends that I cherish.
My biggest inspiration to keep fighting is my family. I want to retire and grow old with my husband; I want to see my son get married; I want to see my step-son choose his career path and succeed. I am my own inspiration as well. I have amazed myself through this as I have grown so much as a person. I am happier, more joyful, more assertive; I enjoy life more and I feel I have so much to live for.
The importance and power of a support system through this journey is immeasurable. I have received dozens of cards, notes, gifts, inspirational trinkets, books, and every single thing is so meaningful to me. I decorated my kitchen cabinets with all the cards I received and I’d read and reread them, gaining inspiration and strength from them. Just a simple text message from a friend telling me that they were thinking of me is so special.
On Screening & Awareness
Colon cancer screening is a simple way to quite possibly prevent a complex disease. Do not be afraid of the “prep.” It’s not all that bad and there’s nothing to the procedure itself. It’s amazing that such a simple procedure has the potential to save a life.
I would love for doctors to listen to their patients. Yes, maybe it’s difficult for them to fathom that a young, otherwise healthy, 40-year-old female could have colon cancer, but she can and she does. And there are so many, even younger than me, that need to be heard. Doctors need to be better educated on the rising number of incidence with colon cancer. I would also like to see the screening age be lowered to 40.
Learning Through Challenges
My view of life has always been more of a “glass half-full” type. Now, however, I really can’t get enough of the good things in life. And I enjoy every moment, I am thankful for each moment and I am simply happier than ever. I have learned that some things just don’t matter; I’ve learned that I don’t like mean people and I truly only want to surround myself with good, fun-loving, caring people.
To those recently diagnosed: You are not alone – ever. It is such a scary time when newly diagnosed, and it’s overwhelming to take all of it in. But there are treatments, there are cures and there is always hope. That is the word I think of and dwell on each day: hope.
Diana Welch, 42
Colon cancer patient