Nobody wants to hear the “C” word. It doesn’t matter how old or how young you are. It doesn’t matter how tough you think you are, or how physically fit you might be. It doesn’t matter if you eat salad and quinoa or three Big Macs a day. The “C” word doesn’t discriminate.
To most people, Amanda Weaver was living the dream. She helped lead her high school basketball team to back-to-back district and state championships. She parlayed her hard work into a Division 1 scholarship to the University of Hartford.
She played four years of Division 1 basketball, worked her fanny off to earn a 3.89 GPA in Biology, and was in the first year of graduate school for physical therapy when her world turned upside down.
“My freshmen year in high school I started to have rectal bleeding,” Weaver remembers. “I would tell my doctor, and they would say, ‘you’re all right, you’re young, it’s probably fine, you’re just constipated.’ When I saw the doctor annually, I would bring it up, and they said I was fine, I had no other symptoms.
“Toward the end of my college career, it became more frequent,” Weaver continued. “Toward the end of my first year of graduate school, it became really frequent, so I decided when I went home, that I was going to go to the doctor, and we’re going to do something this time. I thought I might have to change my diet or I had a gluten allergy. They sent me for a colonoscopy, and the next thing, they’re telling me I have cancer.”
Doctors first believed her colon cancer was in Stage 3, which means it spread to her lymph nodes. Additional testing changed that diagnosis. But Amanda’s battle was just beginning.
“It was a blur,” Weaver recalls. “I tried to stay strong for everybody else. My Mom was with me, and I tried to suppress my shock for my Mom’s sake. Colon cancer has a stigma attached to it. It’s usually older men that get colon cancer, and I’m 23 at the time.”
Once the shock wore off, Weaver channeled her competitive spirit and met with her doctors to determine a course of action. Prior to her first surgery, she underwent oral chemotherapy, and after that, six weeks of radiation treatment. She then had major surgery to remove the tumor, and post-surgery, she underwent six months of intravenous chemotherapy.
“It was both a physical and mental challenge,” Weaver said. “Sometimes I got into my own head, thinking I’m never going to live a normal life again. I felt hopeless at times. There were YEARS that I didn’t have strength to get off the couch. There were times that I couldn’t walk down the hall to go to the bathroom without getting winded.
“I really pushed myself because I had dealt with so much adversity prior to that,” Weaver went on. “I always found a reason to keep pushing. Instead of thinking about my future, I focused on, what do I need to accomplish today? I focused on the things I could control and did them really well.”
With a positive diagnosis from her doctors, Amanda thought she was on her way back to good health. However, just when she thought things were trending in a positive direction, her body had other ideas.
Come Back next week to read the conclusion of Amanda’s story