This seems like a strange topic to kick off my new site with, but honestly it’s the main thing on my mind these days. This post is more for me to get this off my chest and on to “paper” than anything else.  The last 6 weeks have been a complete whirlwind and have changed my life forever. From the time I went to the doctor, to now, it’s been 6 weeks. In that time period I’ve been both diagnosed with and “cured” from colon cancer. Whew. Here’s how it all went down…

Back in March, I saw a doctor because I was having some strange issues (I won’t go into detail due to TMI :). I felt pretty stupid when I left though because his recommendation was that I simply needed more fiber in my diet and sent me on my merry way. I proceeded to feel worse and worse and have more and more issues until finally in August, I got up the nerve to find another doctor and made another appointment. This doctor had me immediately set up an appointment with a gastrointerologist and within days I was telling my stories yet again.

I was starting to get tired of hearing myself tell the same things over and over but felt like finally someone was taking notice. Luckily, she did! She thought perhaps I had a couple things going on and ordered an endoscopy and colonoscopy for a week later, on the same day. Ok, we’re at what, about 2 weeks now? I won’t go into detail about the horror of getting a colonoscopy… essentially the worst part is the day leading up to it. Although I did lose a couple pounds from my liquid only diet. ;)

I was actually feeling more excited than nervous about having these tests done. I just wanted to find out what was going on with my body, and hoped that these tests could shed some light. My worst fear honestly was that they’d do all these tests and still not know what was going on. Well… that definitely wasn’t the case. Almost instantly after starting the colonoscopy (I was awake), the doctor found a growth. A GROWTH. WHAT?!?! A growth. fuck.

The growth was about 5cm in diameter and the doctor said it had to be surgically removed whether it was cancerous or not. Whoa. She said it… she said cancer. Ugh. I could tell by the tone of her voice and the way she spoke that she was concerned, and quite serious. I found out later that she was my same age and I think that freaked her out a bit. She also had me get a CAT Scan that very day. They wanted to see if there were other growths in my body… they wanted to see if it had spread. (breathe… breathe… breathe…) I also set up an appointment with the surgeon for Monday (which was the same day as the beginning of the SEOmoz Seminar in case you were wondering why the hell I wasn’t there :).

That same Monday when I met with the surgeon, I found out that the biopsies were inconclusive but that the doctor felt 99% sure it was cancer. Again with the “C” word. Luckily the CAT Scan came back fine… if it was cancer, it didn’t look like it had spread. Halleh-fricken-luya! I wanted to get this growth out of me quickly. I didn’t want to give it time to live in my mind and grow and become something. Obviously this would just be growing in my mind, as it’s been growing in my body for a while. But I didn’t want to get to know it or to have it define me. So it needed to come out… cancer or no cancer, get the hell out of my body.

The surgery date was set for a week later. At this point I had told my family, close friends and most of my coworkers. But on the day of surgery, I decided to tell the world. I realized that saying it out loud helped me to get rid of it. It was as if every time I told someone about what was going on, I felt a “whew, it’s going to be ok” sentiment. So I tweeted. And I updated my status on Facebook. I wasn’t sure what kind of reactions I’d get, but I was definitely not prepared for the sheer outpouring of love, concern and positivity I received.

My family was by my side the entire time. My husband waited with me until right before they wheeled me into surgery. I was in the hospital for 4 nights and my dad slept next to me every night. While my husband and mom spent each full day with me in the hospital. I got texts and emails and tweets and Facebook messages from close friends and from people I’ve never even met before. Every message I received, put a smile on my face. It meant the world to me to have such a huge support system.

The days in the hospital were pretty rough and I was mostly out of it. I happily pushed the button every 8 minutes to get drugs to ease the pain and drank liquids for 6 days total. On the morning of the day I was hoping to go home, the doctor FINALLY had the results from the tests. I had had stage 2 cancer. The lymph nodes all came back negative around the area, which meant it didn’t spread. THEY GOT IT ALL. He said that. The doctor said that, and I turned around to hug my dad but his face was in his hands. He had tears rolling down his eyes with the biggest smile on his face I’ve ever seen. I was happy and freaked out at the same time. This was the first time they had been able to straight up say what the growth was. It wasn’t just some random growth anymore, it was cancer. And it was no longer in my body. Buh bye sucker!

The doctor said it would take 3-4 weeks to heal but honestly I didn’t believe her. I thought I’d be back working right away. I mean come on, I work on the interwebz. :) But honestly, it kinda kicked my ass. It humbled me. I had to stop and smell the roses a bit. My husband Rudy helped a lot with this. He reminded me to breathe and meditate and think positive. He was my rock.

Now this is about the craziest thing I might ever say… but I think this has been the best thing to ever happen to me. I have a new lease on life. I get a do-over and I don’t plan on wasting it.

All I can say to anyone who happens to read this, is that if you think something is not right with your body, don’t sit around and wait. Get it checked out. What if I had waited? I know that in the future, when I get lax about eating healthy or I don’t want to exercise, I’m going to remind myself of that day when I this thought went through my head: “What if I don’t get to see Eva grow up?” That thought right there will keep me going.

I’m tired and tomorrow is my first day back in the office. I’m going to end this here with a quote I read in my Whole Living magazine: “…healing is less about battling illness and more about nourishing life“. Words to live by. :)

53 thoughts on “I Had Cancer”

  1. Powerful post, Jen. I had huge tears in my eyes, but not because I thought, “oh poor Jen! How could this happen to her?” But because I thought, damn straight! She looked cancer in the eye and told it to Fuck Off! I’m proud at how you took control of your health. I’m proud that for once you made yourself the priority. I’m proud that you did not let cancer define you. I’m proud of you, my sweet friend!!! xxx

      1. bwahahaha! whoops! I was really feeling it when I wrote that post :) xx but seriously, JEN FOR PRESIDENT!

  2. Welcome back to your new life.

    Too many of us have similar stories but I got my second chance when I was too young to remember. This new strength will color your future days in amazing ways. Thanks for sharing.

    Have a great day at work.

    –Mike

    1. Hi Mike! Sorry we didn’t get a chance to chat a bit more at the SEOmoz training. Second chances are only good if you seize them eh? Congrats to you as well. :)

  3. Thanks for sharing, Jen. We all have so much to be thankful for! I’m looking forward to a full life of continued friendship between you and I. Nice work kicking cancer’s ass. Love you much!

    1. It’s funny to say I kicked cancer’s ass because I barely had long enough to even realize it was there! What I do know is that I’m a cancer kicking ninja and will not allow it back. ;) Love you too!

  4. You’ve always been very impressive to me, Jen. I’ve gotten the sense that you’re determined, proud and stead-fast. It doesn’t surprise me that you kicked your cancer’s ass. Not one bit. Very glad to hear that we have your antics to look forward to for a long time to come. :)

    1. Haha, I see that I have pulled the wool over your eyes. ;) Kidding… thanks! I really appreciate that.

  5. Thanks for sharing Jen! We are glad that you kicked cancer’s ass and I’m glad you are coming back to work. If you ever get anything unhealthy you don’t want, you can always send it to me, especially if it is candy!

    1. Luckily the amazing SEOmoz crew took notice and instead of showering me with cupcakes and doughnuts they brought me fruit!! I love them. :) But yes, in the future I will send all unhealthy stuff to you. :P

  6. What a story, Jen! Cannot even imagine the emotional roller coaster you had to go through. It’s over – what a relief. Wishing you a quick recovery. And thank you for sharing.

  7. Niña, disfruta cada segundo de esta nueva oportunidad que has recibido. Estoy absolutamente segura de que tu actitud ante esta situación ha sido vital para que saliera todo bien. Mereces esa vida maravillosa que tienes con gente tan especial a tu lado. Recuerda que te quiero y que estaré siempre, aunque sea en la distancia… ERES UNA CAMPEONA!!!

  8. I, too, have tears in my eyes from reading this, Jen. Powerful, powerful post. I am so grateful for your healing and grateful for the love of your wonderful husband, and my friend Rudy, and your big extended family.

    And I’m snickering, because my beautiful little daughter said a naughty word, which I echo!

    xoxo
    P~

    1. I’m truly luckily for all the love and support in my life. :) I snickered as well because that comment of hers put her in the spam box. haha Love you!!

  9. WOW… This is something you’re not supposed to think about at your/our age. I’m glad it all turned out ok in the end, but am sorry to hear you had to go through all of that.

    Enjoy every day like it is a blessing, because they really are!

    1. It’s pretty crazy eh? I mean I’m older than a lot of people in the industry but I’m not THAT old.

      1. Don’t get started with the ‘THAT old’ thing. You’re still young enough to be my daughter. And there are plenty of grey-hairs in the industry these days. :D

  10. I’m excited that you had the courage to keep going and got it properly diagnosed and so lucky there were symptoms! We are all so happy that it turned out this way and you and the fam are on road to a new way of life. Second chances are truly awesome!

    1. Thanks Lauren. :) Bummed I missed you while you were in Seattle… I think you should come for my birthday next year! :D

  11. What a fighter you are Jen – never a doubt in my mind that you would kick the big C’s ass. And thank you for putting it on “paper” because it makes it real – and your message about trusting what your body is telling you is so important. What a wonderful inspiration you are – so proud to call you my friend!

  12. 1> I love the new site, I am really glad you have it and I think its going to be amazing place for you to share more parts of your life.

    2> We are going to need to do something about that sidebar. It looks so naked! Next time we are hanging we will need to discuss widgets.

    3> Oh yeah CANCER! I am really happy that you kicked its ass, out of yours! :P I think it takes a lot of courage to seek treatment and recovery at full throttle like you did! You are amazing for that!

    1. 1. Thanks! I’ve been meaning to get it up for a long time.
      2. Whew, the whole thing looks pretty naked. I need to pimp it out quite a bit and would LOVE to talk widgets with you. :)
      3. LMAO (get it… laugh my ASS off) anyway… :D

  13. Wow! Intense, Jen. I can only imagine what you must have been going through. But you whipped it, and that’s what counts!
    I think I can understand where you’re coming from, about talking about it, and feeling more in control from doing so.
    I’m happy for you and your family. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could have such a great outcome!

  14. So happy it worked out OK, Jen and maybe even happier that you found a way to take such a hard, potentially negative experience and make something positive out of it. I hope I get to be there as you make the most of this renewal :-)

    Big hugs.

    1. Thanks Rand! Your support and kindness through all of this has meant the world to me. :)

  15. So good to have you back, safe and sound. Here’s to planning to live for a hundred years, as well as living each day as though it were our last. I’m looking forward to sharing those days with you.

    1. Thanks Gillian!! I’ve really appreciated all your love and support not just through this craziness but since we first met. :) You’re an amazing lady and the whole Lopez family appreciates all you’ve done for us!

  16. Hey Jen,

    Oh Jen, I am so happy you are back and healthy :-D Everyone missed you so much!

    It is inspiring to see how positively you handled this and that you used this hellish situation as fuel to grow as a person.

    Thank you for sharing!

    1. No Danny, thank YOU for listening to me constantly talk about life. :) It must get boring at some point, and yet you continue to act like I’m kinda cool (ok you don’t… but I’m being nice here ;).

  17. you are one bad mamma jama, miz sable-lopez. wishing you and your family all the best in this new life of yours. something tells me now that you’re back at it, you hit the ground running (viva españa!) xo

  18. This was a really motivating story, Jen. I’m so glad that everything worked out and I think it is great that you have taken the terrible situation and made it into your new lease on life. I missed you from the office – I know I haven’t known you for that long, but it was impossible to not notice you being gone! You’re an inspiring person and by creating this blog post, you’re motivating others to take their negative situations and convert them into bravery and hope, both specifically in regards to cancer and generally in life as a whole. I hope to read more great posts in the future!

    1. Thanks Aaron. :) I’ll be honest here… I find you quite inspiring! Every single day I notice your positive outlook on life. It made an impact on me, perhaps this is me trying to pay that forward. ;)

  19. Jen, I have so much I want to say, and some of it has been said already by phone, text, DMs, @s. :-)

    Mostly, I was so touched by the way you handled the unknowns and the news. When I looked in your eyes when you shared the results that Monday at the Mozinar, I saw strength combined with tons of emotions. I wanted to make it all go away and step in and take your pain.

    Your fortitude helped me through some tough times and health issues I dealt with subsequently.

    One thing is for sure, if your organs and immune system have 1/2 the strength and sassiness of your attitude, then this cancer is kicked in the butt for good!

    Love you, girlfriend!

    1. Dana you know I love you. :) I know we are in habitual phone/email/twitter tag but every time I hear you voice or see your message it just brightens up my day! I hope you continue to get better as well. You’re a rock!

    1. Hah! Don’t get too excited about it, there are only 2 posts. I have a lot of work to do on it still!

  20. yeah, im with everywhereist. i didn’t know it either. and i only found out like 2 or 3 months after the fact about your cancer. reading this put tears in my eyes jen, especially picturing the look on your dad’s face after the diagnosis. wow.

    this is so you and you are so kick ass :) i’m really happy to hear everything went so well, really.

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