My name is Sandi Stupica and I live in Ypsilanti, MI. This is my sixth year as a high school English teacher at Ypsilanti New Tech. Well, kind of my sixth year. I have been out on long-term disability since September to recover from my two surgeries: the surgery to remove the tumor and, therefore, get the ostomy; and the surgery to remove the ostomy and get the j-pouch. It seems that the surgeries have been successful and I’m feeling much better now! I return to work on April 12trh. Woot!
My first year of teaching was in rural, middle-of-the-state Okeechobee, FL. I grew up in Michigan so I wanted to try and find a job in my home state for my second year of teaching. Even though I came back to Michigan, I met some great people in Chobee and stayed in contact via Facebook. In November of 2014, Jason, who was a 32-year-old teacher in Florida, posted that he was diagnosed with Stage 1 colorectal cancer (Later, he would find out that he actually had stage 3). He posted some of the symptoms and why he went to the doctor. I had been feeling discomfort like he had, but I thought I had a lactose intolerance or gluten intolerance. Until 2015, I had no signs of rectal bleeding. To be safe, I reached out to him, as well as doctors. Luckily, my doctor recommended a colonoscopy. I had over forty polyps, and a two-inch tumor closer to my rectum. I had stage 3 colorectal cancer at 29-years-old.
Having colorectal cancer is a battle. But, I also took on the battle of fertility preservation just in case my reproductive system reacted harshly to the chemotherapy. I decided to not have radiation to increase my chances of fertility in the future. My milestones to colorectal survival are the following: fertility preservation, chemotherapy (with oxaliplatin, leucovorin, and Fulfox5), surgery to remove the tumor and get the ostomy, and the final surgery of the J Pouch. I worked through the fertility preservation and chemotherapy.
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