My Story

1 / 3
                                                                   My Story
“With health and hope, the mind, body, and spirit will cultivate happiness.”
–Modesta Tonan
I cannot write about things I know nothing about, I choose to write about life stuff either through my experiences or of those around me. I do not have a melancholic soul, I just choose to live in the present and sometimes  write about things to never forget.
I wanted to take a opportunity to create a new platform called Confession Sessions for people to tell their life stories and hopefully inspire others.
Here is part of my story. I want to tell it so I can make people aware of one of the most common types of cancers in Canada,  colorectal cancer. Even if I can help one person through my story that would be enough. Don’t be afraid to talk about your body. Get checked and ask questions.  Early detection is key, and prevention through screening is proven to be effective in the fight against this cancer. Canada offers a national screening program at age 50 for all of us, but if you have symptoms or it runs in your family get checked earlier. I was only 35 when I was diagnosed with colitis; the inflammation of the inner lining of the colon. The cause is sometimes undetermined, it may be acute and self limited or chronic and persistent. Symptoms of colitis may include tummy pain, cramping, bloody loose stool, incontinence, constipation, fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting.  All these symptoms can range from mild to severe and can be misdiagnosed if you are not persistent in your answers. I was diagnosed with autoimmune severe ulcerative colitis during my pregnancy with my third child. I was seven months  pregnant and I was having all the above symptoms. I will never forget my fear during that time as my symptoms were quite severe. I was being treated at McMaster Hospital and every visit brought forth more devastating news. My condition was now putting my child at risk and I had to make the decision to start medical treatment. This treatment included twelve steroids pills a day to speed up the healing of my inflamed colon, and a medicated enema every night until my baby was born. I remember thinking at the time. “NO FUCKING WAY” how could my specialist think that this was ok. I wasn’t going to put anything in my body to harm my child. I told her I would wait until I delivered my daughter and then I would take care of me. That wasn’t going to happen because if I didn’t immediately start taking these medicines, my condition would continue to worsen and require surgery and the arrival of a premature baby. She would then have to face her own complications. Needless to say, I had no choice and this was the official start of my mind, body, and health, being tested for just how strong I would need to be. My fight against colitis was on. The following year would take me to the brink of insanity and beyond. I didn’t have a clue of the battles I would face and continue to live with on a daily basis. My only concern was that of my unborn child and getting her out of my now diseased belly.
My beautiful and “healthy” daughter Ava Teresa was born on September 28th 2000 after a very hard and long deliver. To finally hold her in my arms, and count her fingers and toes was as if nothing else had gone on the 3 months before her birth. All the waiting and fear of if I was harming her all gone the moment I looked at her snow white skin, and round cherub face adorned with the most beautiful gold reddish hair.. perfect she was perfect.
I went for my scheduled colonoscopy three months after my baby’s birth to finally see what was going on inside my body. At that time I felt the best I ever felt in a long time. All my symptoms gone, no more pills or enemas. I was a healthy mother of three beautiful, healthy, and active children. I never expected the news to be anything but positive. When I went in for my results I was told I had precancerous polyps in my colon. There was a possibility I had colon cancer. Only by operating and removing the diseased colon

2 / 3
would allow me a chance at preventing it to spread. I was again paralyzed with fear. I was told that my condition is rarely seen in a thirty five year old, that usually people in their sixty’s have this condition.
The surgery would be a long and dangerous one, and be would be done in two parts. First removal of the colon and reconstructing of a reservoir style pouch in my body called a j-pouch. Second closure and removal of the temporary ileostomy bag on my body only after the surgery would show to be successful. This surgery deemed complicated with no guarantees it would work, but a risk I would have no choice again in taking.
According to the Mayo Clinic Staff, Ileoanal anastomosis surgery (commonly called J-pouch or IPAA) allows you to eliminate waste normally after removal of the upper and lowest parts of the large intestine (colon and rectum). J-pouch surgery avoids the need for a permanent opening in the abdomen (stoma) for passing bowel movements. Ileoanal anastomosis is most often used to treat chronic ulcerative colitis and inherited conditions such as familial adenomatous polyposis that carry a high risk of colon and rectal cancer.
I had my surgery on March 21st 2001, it took a little over four hours. I woke up with the ileostomy bag and stoma on my tummy. The second surgery for reversal of the stoma was performed later in August of the same year. I  was in the hospital for a month and lost 30 pounds in 30 days.  I was in extreme pain, I was weak, broken, and most of all scared. Mentally it was debilitating, physically it was frustrating. I found myself in a state of depression and loneliness. I didn’t know how to quiet my mind anymore. I was always searching and struggling to know more, but not wanting to know more.  Two weeks after the removal of my colon, I was told that it was all contained, no cancer. That day I knew I was given a second chance. That all the brokenness was temporary, that I was one of the lucky ones. I finally understood this was wonderful news for the first time in six months. I stopped feeling sorry for myself and slowly started to love and find bits of me again. In the time that I was going through treatment, Marino and I had lost 2 very close people in our lives at a very young age and one to bowel cancer. Joe a husband and father and Linda a mother and wife. Both lovers of life. Both will forever have a special part in my heart as their life story intertwined with mine at that time.
The struggles and obstacles I faced through recovery were tough, dirty and raw. I knew that dark place that I had been in was necessary and meant for me in my life path. My husband, mother, sisters, picking me up every time I fell or would want to give up. They took care of me and loved me back to health.
Through the years my condition Still creeps up on me, pushing me down sometimes very hard into the ground leaving me with permanent bruises and scars. Everyday is a battle, some days I will be a warrior fighting with all I have and conquering the pain, other days I will breathe and hide while I pray. Make no mistake I will always get up with a “Fuck You” attitude. I am stronger now than I have ever been before, because I have to be. I finally realize that through the battles, pain, and loneliness was an underlining lesson. To love life and be grateful for everyday you have. I will always be informed and in prevention mode. My health is the most important thing I own and I will do whatever it takes to mentally, physically and spiritually live in my best healthy state.

We should all try to be kinder to one another, as we walk through our life journey together in this world we share.

We must learn to never judge someone by how they look or act.

We don’t know the struggles, and adversities they face. Some choose to fight silently.
We all have stories; We all have battles. Adversity,shapes who we are. It allows us to be vulnerable. By embracing and overcoming adversity, you will learn to live without regrets, love without conditions, and dream without limits.
Life is lived the way YOU choose to live it. So live it to the fullest! And ignore those ignorant few who judge YOU! Trust me; I Do. 

~Modesta Tonan
Love Love.

Comments · 4

  1. You are my idol. Such a strong woman Mo. We all have stuff we go through. Sometimes I feel so helpless I think I’m losing it. My family always worrying about my health , my own illness and being overwhelmed with worry about my moms health and her being in a retirement home. A place where she is depressed, alone, sick. I feel guilty that I had to put her there. I feel guilty for not keeping her here with me. I feel scared that we cannot afford the extra care for her. Sometimes I just want to scream….what did I ever do in life to deserve all this shit!! I’m a good person, I help everyone, I make good choices….so why??? Why did my sister steal all my moms money and now I have to suffer with trying to make sure she is cared for. Why is a question I ask myself so many times in a day. Yup we all have “shit” we go through. But even though I have to go through this I THANK GOD EVERY SINGLE DAY I AM BLESSED TO BE ABLE TO FEEL ANY OF THIS. I AM SO BLESSES TO WAKE UP ANOTHER DAY. God Bless you my beautiful strong friend. May he bless us all with our own struggles.

Comments are closed.