Welcome another one of our Wunder’s Warriors: Kristi Holcomb, from Chattanooga, Tennessee! Diagnosed with Stage IIIB colon cancer at the age of 43, she later found out that she is a carrier of HNPCC – Lynch Syndrome. A survivor now at age 48, Kristi is an independent advocate on early detection and screening. She created an informational website called: Reaching Out and Spreading Hope to those affected by colorectal cancer and/or HNPCC Lynch. Kristi’s “no-nonsense” voice of positivity and support is the perfect WunderGlo fit.
Kristi Holcomb’s Story (told in her own words):
Here is My Story: (written in WunderGlo Chat on April 12, 2016) I was diagnosed Stage IIIB rectal cancer in August 2010, when I was 43 years old… I am one of the lucky ones heart emoticon You see, I was one of “those” women who knew something wasn’t right, but neglected to make a doctor’s appointment when the symptoms first began… The only symptom I had was vaginal “pressure” pain during intercourse with my husband. No pain any other time. No blood in stools. No mucus. No rectal changes at all, just vaginal discomfort during sex… and it was a SLIGHT discomfort… So, I ignored it for almost a year.., because it was “just” a minimal ache. Then as the pain increased, making intimacy almost impossible, I made an appointment with the Gynecologist.
My first gynecologist exam won me a VIP trip straight to the gastroenterologist. The visit to the gastroenterologist won me a biopsy… yes, a biopsy right then and there, on the exam table.
Three days later, on August 1st, 2010, I learned the biopsy revealed colon cancer . One colonoscopy later, I was diagnosed with Stage IIIB Colon Cancer that started 2-3cm inside the rectum (at the Recto/Sigmoid junction) and 4-6 positive lymph nodes. The tumor had started as a polyp, but had quickly grown through the rectal wall – so the “mass” was on the outside of the rectal wall. It was as large as an orange and had invaded the back of my vaginal canal. This meant not only would I be having a colon resection surgery and getting a colostomy bag, I would also need vaginal reconstruction. My life at that very moment changed.
One month later I started 5FU chemotherapy and had 28 consecutive radiation treatments. My “big” surgery was December 2010. The abdominal resection/vaginal reconstructive surgery was amazing. I had a surgical oncologist and a plastic surgeon in the operating room with me during my surgery. The surgical oncologist resected/removed my entire pelvic region…rectum, vaginal canal, and the entire perineum area in between the two. He then created my colostomy on the left side of my abdomen. The plastic surgeon then removed a 20″ x 5″ flap of skin from the right side of my abdomen, and used it to reconstruct the exposed rectal region and created a new vaginal canal for me. Amazing, just amazing. This procedure took 9 hours in surgery and six months to recover, but now, I am sexually, a functional woman. “Functional” being the key word. I could go in to great detail, but I won’t. Let’s just say “sex” is defined differently now. My husband and I had to learn how to express our passion in other ways, both sexually and emotionally… I’m not gonna lie, it’s been VERY difficult and of course, there are obstacles… but I am alive and here today to show that even under the worst of circumstances, happiness and satisfaction can be obtained – both mentally and physically.
Immediately following recovery from surgery I had 12 FOLFOX chemotherapy treatments. I also had genetic testing and found out that I am positive for Lynch Syndrome – MSH2. My sister and daughter were tested and also came back positive for Lynch. Today, I am 5 yrs cancer free!
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