Rita’s Story

In 2009 at age 43 I went in for a routine mammogram and was shocked to find out I had stage 1, aggressive cell, breast cancer. I underwent surgery and six weeks of radiation. Thinking all was well I went on with my life, raising my two young girls and spending time with my husband Jeff and our dog Presley. Life was good.

Exactly one year after treatment for breast cancer, I began having digestive issues. Because of my younger age, my doctors were reluctant to schedule a colonoscopy. The medical team was convinced it was IBS or gallbladder issues, but I felt that something else was very wrong. Finally, after four months of tests and seeing multiple specialists I was diagnosed with stage 3B colon cancer.

Two cancers in less than two years was not the way I expected my life to go. I underwent surgery and six months of chemotherapy. Other than taking a few days off after surgery, I was able to continue working and exercising.

Like many cancer survivors, I look at life very differently now than I did before my first diagnosis. I realize how fortunate I was to have such good health care. I am a strong proponent of being your own best advocate and spread the word on the importance of staying up to date on routine mammograms and colonoscopies. I feel we need to enjoy today because you don’t know what challenges tomorrow will present!

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