Editor's Note: Area residents will be sharing stories about how cancer has touched their lives leading up to Relay For Life of Douglas County. Here is Kriss's story:
BY KRISS MILLER-KRUZEL
December 22, 2010…the day I was officially diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the lung. In other words…I have cancer.
That day my entire life changed forever. That day my family’s lives changed forever. That day the lives of everyone who knew me changed. That day I began a new journey. I was completely blindsided…I never imagined I would be touched by cancer directly. I originally began participating in the Relay For Life to propel the efforts of finding a cure for cancer. I not only did this in support of those reaching and searching for a cure, but also in memory of those — like my Grandma — who were taken by this disease.
Many people do not realize the huge emotional and physical impact cancer has on those who are diagnosed or those close to them. Cancer is not something one ever wishes upon themselves or others. Cancer is not contagious from a smile, a handshake, a pat on the back, a hug. Cancer is not necessarily a “death sentence” today because of the many research advances and people who support those efforts. I am living proof of this.
When diagnosed, cancer was found in the lower left lobe of my lung and had metastasized to my bronchial tubes. In the following four months, although I was receiving active intravenous chemotherapy, the cancer metastasized to my liver which was not confirmed until six weeks later by follow-up CT scans. Initially diagnosed as a Stage 3A, my cancer had progressed quickly to a more critical state by June 2011.
Despite my prognosis, I participated in the Relay For Life that year, assisted in my mobility challenges using a wheelchair manned by family and friends. I continued to be very determined that I would not succumb to cancer and would do everything in my power to live. I was not going without a fight.
I had many things to still experience and live for: my tweenie daughter, my family, my many wonderful friends, the wonderful people I work for and with — not to mention, I had not achieved living beyond my 30s yet. It still is overwhelming. By God’s grace, I am here today due to the awesome support of family and the wonderful medical team I have as well as the discoveries in cancer research that are prolonging my life and keeping the cancer stable as I write this.
So, I now continue to Relay for many, many diverse reasons — continuing to pray for patients, medical teams, caregivers, researchers, and cures — hoping that someday we will be able to have a better understanding and grasp of this…and once in a while remembering that I need to include myself in those prayers, too.