My story: I was diagnosed at age 42


"I experienced cancer of the colon duct C at 42 years of age (1988).  The doctors knew there was infection but were not sure from where at time of surgery.  They did hysterectomy and found a grapefruit size tumor in my colon.  They took it out and put in a colostomy.  This was all a huge surprise to me and my family.  I was in the hospital a month.  I did radiation (all the radiation I could have).

In l989 Dr. Anthony George prepared to turn my colostomy but I was burnt from the radiation.  In November 1989 another pea-size tumor was found that had not been spotted by all the cat scans.  A piece of an apple got lodged which caused tremendous pain.  I had surgery and the diagnosis was possibly terminal.

In 1990 I did a full year of chemo which was most difficult.  I worked the entire year and wore a heplock.  I asked God to allow me to see my youngest daughter 18 years old.  I was a single parent.

My youngest turned 18 in 1999…a very tearful event for me.  Every day was a gift to me..and still is.

After all three daughters married in one year (Nov. 2002 to July 2003) I discovered in August that I had a grape-size tumor on my rectum.  This was found in an every three year colonoscopy by Dr. George’s staff.  I had two options:  to get a permanent colostomy by closing my rectum or try a j-pouch.  I have a j-pouch.  Dr. Susan Galanduik, an awesome colo-rectal surgeon, did two surgeries on me in 2003.   I had to do 6 months of chemo that caused a lot of pain and tears.  Yet, I worked through the entire treatment…always with God’s help.

This is my story.  I am 65 and very healthy and very active.  I have so much to be thankful  for.  I want to give back in some small way.

 I retired from being a Licensed Clinical social worker in Dec. 2010 to care for my grandson who was born with gastroschisis.

He is the one turning a year very soon."

----Mary O’Neill

My dad's critical decision not to get screened


"My parents, Jimmie and Joanne Gardner, were very loving and caring parents. My father was a salesman for Kelvinator Appliances and Sylvania Electronics during the 70’s and early 80’s. He was a very devoted and loving husband and father. However, he made a critical decision that cost him nearly two years of suffering and finally his life.

At some time approximately in late 1990, my father discovered that he was having some rectal bleeding. Even though my paternal grandmother had died from colon cancer in 1981, my father chose to believe that his rectal bleeding was from hemorrhoids. Untreated, the bleeding continued to worsen until one day my mother called me on the phone, her voice filled with concern, and told me that my father was so weak that he couldn’t tie his shoe laces. This information alarmed me and I advised my mother to take my father to the emergency room. My father had reluctantly agreed and arrived at St. Mary’s Hospital in Huntington, WV. That date was in early April, 1991.

Once he was admitted to the hospital, the roller coaster ride (a phrase so adequately describes the journey with cancer) began for our family. My father’s hemoglobin (blood) was so low that he was immediately transfused five pints of blood and scheduled for surgery. After several hours of surgery, the surgeon met us in the waiting room with the bad news. My father had cancer! The cancerous tumor on his colon had been removed. However, the cancer had gone through the wall of the colon and into the lymph nodes. What we didn’t know then but quickly found out later was that the cancer would metastasize throughout the body. We were naïve and hopeful.

In October 1991, after six arduous months of chemotherapy, my father was told he had developed a small spot in his liver. It was a hard blow to our family since we had thought the cancer was gone. Within four months after the malignant spot was found on his liver, my father began to vomit consistently. Once more he weakened and had to be taken to the hospital. It was discovered that the cancer had found new areas to destroy, my father’s brain. A cancerous tumor was discovered at the base of the brain and radiation to the location began in February 1992. Our family was devastated and shocked by the news.

Approximately two years after my father had left his job for what seemed a happy well deserved retirement from his work, he weakly sat in his favorite chair, no hair remaining on his head due to chemotherapy treatments and permanent market trails from his forehead to the base of his neck to mark the entry site of the radiation treatments.

Jimmie Gardner, devoted husband and father, veteran of WWII, died August 26, 1992, at the age of 66 years, from colon cancer.

This could have been prevented. After knowing that his mother had passed away from colon cancer, my father should have made the decision to have a colonoscopy and be screened for the disease. He chose not to do so, and it prematurely cost him his life.

My hope is that YOU and your loved one would choose to LIVE. Choose to have a screening colonoscopy today! It may save your life. I have had mine (3 actually); will you have yours?"

---Lisa Sosnin, Bardstown RN

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