Stacy was diagnosed with Stage IV colorectal cancer on her 44th birthday, September 17th, 2014 after experiencing symptoms of abdominal pain and bleeding. Stacy put off a visit to her doctor since she was a health-conscious, athletic, non-smoker who maintained a normal weight. The symptoms were merely “an annoying inconvenience.” At the time, she was balancing a full-time job with raising her 2 sons, Griffin (now 13) and Emmett (now 11). Emmett suffers with a rare chromosome disorder (one of three in the world) which renders him without the ability to walk, talk, or function for himself in any way. He has multiple special needs and demands constant supervision. He has the mental and physical capacity of a 6 month old baby. Caring for Emmett requires the attention of not only Stacy and her husband Drew, but also a nurse. To say Stacy had her hands full would be an understatement.
So, busy with her day to day role as supermom, Stacy self-diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or internal hemorrhoids until the pain was too much to bear. A colonoscopy revealed the most shocking and most unexpected horror imaginable: a tumor in her rectum so large that a scope could not get around it. A subsequent scan revealed cancer in her liver, 5 spots on her lungs, and 19 lymph nodes. She was given a 10% chance to survive 5 years and a treatment plan which included chemotherapy, radiation and ultimately surgery ONLY IF she responded, which was a 50/50 shot in itself. The doctors could not believe it, especially considering Stacy’s lack of risk factors, lack of family history, and age (colon cancer is typically diagnosed in people over 50).
With her usual vigor, determination, and sense of humor, Stacy took to the task of beating colorectal cancer. She was fortunate enough to have a response to chemotherapy (a protocol called FOLFOX coupled with a drug called Avastin) which qualified her as a candidate for a 5 hour colon and liver resection surgery in April, 2015. Unfortunately, a medical mistake during surgery caused Stacy severe internal bleeding where she lost half of her blood volume. She was immediately rushed back into a second, 5 hour emergency surgery and spent a week in the ICU fighting for her life. As her oncologist later remarked, “anyone else would have died.” But not Stacy.
She was declared as NED (no evidence of disease) in March, 2016. Stacy continues maintenance chemotherapy for life (43 rounds and counting…) every 3 weeks. She feels and looks great. You would never suspect what all she is dealing with. She credits her faith, family, friends, exercise, positive attitude, and integrative oncology modalities for her remarkable recovery.
“If it were just Stage IV colorectal cancer or just raising a profoundly disabled child, I could probably handle it. But managing both is completely overwhelming. I am enormously blessed to have a support system who helps me, when thee last thing I want to do is ask for help. It’s really not my style.”
Stacy offers a unique perspective. Professionally, she has spent 20 years in healthcare management on the provider and delivery sides, including roles in operations, strategy, sales and training. Personally, her battles as a patient and an advocate for not only herself but also her disabled son have fueled her recent work as a public speaker, fundraiser, and consultant. Stacy’s mission is to raise awareness of inclusion for all persons with disabilities and exemplify a “keep it real” approach to fighting and beating cancer.