About me, Julie:
I was born & raised in sunny Southern California. I love the weather here & being close to both the beach & the mountains. But, I’m not gonna lie-the traffic sucks! My hubby & I met in a Spanish class in high school & soon became inseparable. Except for that brief period where we were broken up right after high school, but we quickly found our way back to each other. What can I say? He’s my lobster! We were married in the Los Angeles LDS Temple on August 2, 2003. He is a police officer & once I finished my teaching credential I got pregnant & became a stay at home mom.
When I was growing up, all I wanted to be was a mom. Being a stay at home mom sounds so dreamy right? Well, it should be called “work at home” because being a mom is the most tiring, demanding job I have ever had! Am I right? But it really is wonderful too. And so rewarding. We have 3 girls who are ages 11, 8 & 5 (#girlmom). These girls challenge me every day, but I love them so much. Life is always a roller coaster, but we are trying to raise kind, confident young women while having fun along the way.
During the summer of 2015 I started to have some pain after having bowel movements. (If poop or potty talk bother you, sorry, but it goes with the territory of having rectal cancer!) It wasn’t all of the time & it didn’t last for very long so I assumed it was hemorrhoids because, well, I had birthed 3 babies! By September of that year the pain wasn’t going away & in fact was getting a little worse & lasting longer, so I called my primary care doctor. To make a long story short, after many tests & a couple biopsies I was given an official diagnosis of rectal cancer in April 2016. Stage T2, N1, M0. I was only 36 years old. We were shocked & devastated. And we were scared. I had no family history of colorectal cancer. BUT, it hadn’t spread yet & the doctors told me the prognosis was very good. I ended up going for a second opinion at UCI Medical Center in Orange, CA & found out that I qualified for a clinical trial being conducted by Memorial Sloan Kettering. I completed 5-1/2 weeks of radiation while taking chemo pills, had a 4 week break & then did 16 weeks of chemo only. No surgery. Treatment was pure Hell. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Even though I am still recovering & healing, I am so happy to say that scans have shown no evidence of disease since December 2016! I am so grateful! The clinical trial protocol is to have scans every 3 months for the next 5 years to monitor the area & watch for any changes or recurrence. I pray every day that the cancer doesn’t come back.
I am by no means a professional writer. But I do find writing to be very therapeutic. I’ve had a family blog that I’ve kept up since 2007 documenting the happenings in our life. I’ve always been drawn to journaling & memory keeping & especially since being sick felt an extra pull to record things for my girls to read one day. When I was first diagnosed I actually started a separate blog to update family & friends & to keep a record of all the medical stuff, but I didn’t publish it because…cancer. So I am planning to blog here about my life after cancer. I know everyone’s journey through cancer is different, but I think we are all united in one way-that we are warriors! I also plan to go back & post some of those entries I made last year while going through treatment. It has helped me to read similar stories from others & maybe my story will help someone too. Through this journey I’ve found that there aren’t too many of us who are under 40 with rectal cancer. But I’ve also found that this number is rising. This is so scary! My advice to everybody is to be aware of what’s normal for your body & if anything changes, get it checked out. It is so much better to be safe than sorry!