December, 2023
December 2023
Katie Coleman: Happily ever after isn’t where the story ends, it’s where it begins
Oct 19, 2023, 17:37

Katie Coleman: Happily ever after isn’t where the story ends, it’s where it begins

Katie Coleman, founder of Chromophobe and Oncocytic Tumor Alliance (COA), shared on Twitter:

“All I want is a full clean bill of health so we can live out our lives together.” Less than 24 hours after writing those words, I’d be diagnosed with stage IV cancer – just two months after tying the knot.

My husband and I are celebrating our third wedding anniversary this week and I was feeling a bit nostalgic after he found an old box that I thought we’d lost with all my favorite mementos, including things I’d stashed away from our wedding and an old journal from when we met.

I opened one of them tonight and noticed the last entry was on Dec 30th, 2020- the day before I was diagnosed. In it I talk about new doctors I was seeing trying to get all clear so we could start a family. It was one final pursuit of symptoms I’d been trying to get answers for, for over a year and a half.

I talk about a lump I had been feeling in my side, about being petrified it was cancer. Under a disclaimer of “I know this sounds crazy and I acknowledge that”, I share my fears that it was stage IV and had already gone to my liver. A spiraling google search had convinced me I had stage IV colon cancer.

I wasn’t right about the type of cancer but not even 24 hours later I’d walk out of the ER with a stage IV kidney cancer diagnosis and spread to my liver. I’d mentioned my fears of cancer for over a year and was reassured time after time I was fine, and we just needed to get handle on my anxiety. It wasn’t found until I hit a breaking point. I’d mentioned all my symptoms including the mass to a new doctor, who still wasn’t worried, but I could not shake the feeling something was wrong.

That night I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I went into an urgent care where instead of mentioning my fears of cancer (because that always led to being told it was anxiety) I told them I was worried I had an enlarged liver instead. Which was true, I was worried that’s what I was feeling. I just kept the part that I thought that cancer was the reason it was enlarged to myself. Once there, for first time, my concerns were validated by a nurse practitioner who advised me it’d be worth going to the ER to get it checked out. I will never forget that NP and the impact they had on me that night.

I had a difficult time being taken seriously until I had their opinion to back mine up. Even in the ER I was initially met with skepticism. But because they’d sent me, I finally had something to stand behind “the urgent care though it was an enlarge liver, so can we check just in case?”.

The minute they put an ultrasound on me, we found it. That night, everything changed. This time of year, and my anniversary is filled with so many mixed emotions. Our lives look nothing like we had imagined 3 years ago. Our wedding was one of the best days of my life but it’s also a reminder of how painful the fall from that high was when the rug was ripped out from under us a few months later.

It’s a reminder of the family we were planning and the nights I spent crying myself to sleep afterwards, begging for more time together. In the entry on the 30th I wrote, “I feel like my life has just begun”. At the time, it was in reference to how happy I was to have found my husband and how hopeful I was about our future.

We may not have the life we thought we would, there are no kids in our future, and we have yet to celebrate an anniversary without some type of scan or medical procedure within 2 weeks of our anniversary.

My diagnosis changed everything about our lives but also in some of the most beautiful ways I could have never imagined. Our love grew, endured and strengthened through some of the most difficult and trying times of our lives. It made us cherish the little moments, taught us to never take each other for granted and to never miss an I love you.

There was a time I didn’t think I’d see this anniversary. Life looks different now but it’s also better than I could have ever imagined. Happily ever after isn’t where the story ends, it’s where it begins.”


Source: Katie Coleman/Twitter