My name is Barbara Spangler and I would like to share my journey with stage III colorectal cancer.
I am a single parent with five children. On my birthday in January of 2009, I went in for a colonoscopy because I’d been having blood in my stools. When I woke up, the doctor told me that he had found cancer. I could tell from the look on his face that it was serious.
He took samples and sent them to the lab, then called me later that day. The samples had confirmed what he had told me after the procedure. I will never forget the memory of calling my older three children, my two young kids and my immediate family and telling them I had cancer.
When I first went to meet my oncologist, he was sure that my cancer was only stage I or stage II. In March, when I finally went into surgery, they removed the tumor and gave me a temporary ileostomy plus a port a cart. They removed 34 lymph nodes, one of which tested positive, which meant I was stage III Cat B. That was a shock to all of us, especially my oncologist.
Not long after the surgery, I started radiation for six weeks straight as well as chemotherapy. During all this time, I was having difficulties. I had been in and out of the hospital several times for more surgeries on my colon. I was also having a hard time eating and drinking fluids; I couldn’t keep them down. This result in another surgery, during which they removed a "valve," which means whatever I eat or drink pretty much goes right through. To this day I have a hard time controlling my bowel movements.
As of today, I still have to watch what I eat and drink. When we got out places, I always bring my "diaper" bag.
It has been a long road for my children, my grandsons, my family members, my friends and me. I do know my life has changed a lot, but I am trying not to let this have no control over me. I still want to enjoy being around my children, grandsons, family and friends.
Before I was medically retired from the US Army in April of this year, I bought a house for myself and my two younger children. I am learning to enjoy my new house and my new life.