I’m Julie Smith colon cancer patient. I am an avid hiker with a love for nature and animals. I spend almost all of my breaks at work walking. My weekends and vacations are spent hiking. I have found and rescued multiple animals that were abandoned in the state park next to my home.
In 2018 I was having significant digestive problems. It began with an extreme urgency to get to the bathroom after eating and evolved into vomiting with bathroom urgency. I spent a lot of 2018 sitting on a toilet with a trash can clutched in my hands. I was diagnosed with food intolerances. The change in diet worsened my symptoms. During my journey of visiting physicians, missing time from work, and extremely limited diet, I lost 100 pounds. After months of anguish I was diagnosed with a diseased gallbladder which was removed in September 2018. At first the removal of my gallbladder relieved the vomiting, however, the bathroom urgency continued. I continued to research the symptoms and realized these issues could persist for a time after gallbladder surgery. I decided to be patient and pray for healing.
During the course of a year my symptoms continued to worsen, resulting in multiple days away from work and a poor quality of life. In November 2019 I visited a GI specialist and was given instructions to increase my fiber intake. After following the advice given, a week later I was unable to pass a stool and called the doctors office repeatedly seeking advice. I was told to continue following the doctors instructions, and I did. After the week of repeated phone calls to GI I was given instructions to take magnesium citrate. I was hopeful this would help, but it did not. I knew something was incredibly wrong so I went to the Carle walk-in clinic. The doctor immediately sent me to the ER. The ER gave me an enema and prescribed GI prep to complete at home, believing this would solve my problem. Once at home, I completed the prep and it made me incredibly sick.
The morning after the prep I returned to the ER, they ran multiple tests and X-rays. A mass was found in my colon. After further testing I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. I had emergency surgery to remove the mass from my colon. Unfortunately the advice I received from my GI doctor to increase my fiber had inflated my colon like a balloon making the tissue extremely fragile necessitating a colostomy. Fortunately this is reversible upon completion of my cancer treatment. I spent 2 weeks in the hospital over Thanksgiving 2019. After returning home, I spent an additional 5 weeks on sick leave recovering from my surgery.
I returned to work January 2, 2020 only to begin chemotherapy a week later.
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