“It’s Okay to Not Be Okay in March” by Diana Sloan

As many of you know, March was Colorectal Cancer awareness month. For long-term survivors or patients like me it is a blessing and extremely hard at the same time. Don’t get me wrong. I loved seeing all the blue love out there. I also loved seeing people spreading the word about screening, early onset colon/rectal cancer, and symptoms to look out for. But for me it was a reminder that I am not okay, and neither are many of my friends.

I have been in active treatment for six years, and I will always be in treatment. I recently found out that I have eighteen lung tumors instead of the nine I thought I had. To say it was a shock was an understatement. March is the month when I really want to spread the word just like so many advocates out there, but this year I did it with a little cloud over my head. I have always managed to keep a halfway decent attitude about this whole cancer thing. But darn it sometimes I just want to curl up in a ball and quit because I am tired, and I just don’t want to do it anymore!

Then I see my friends coming to the end of their time here, and I just want to scream, cry, and will it not to be true. Imagine seeing someone and wondering if it is the last time you will see them. The last hug. The last good-bye. It seems so wrong, but there is nothing we can do about it. Cancer does not discriminate. I have met so many amazing people because of cancer, but I have also lost too many along the way.

This March I reunited with my Colon Club family at Fight CRC’s Call on Congress. We laughed, reminisced, and had a fantastic time as we always do. There is nothing quite like an ocean of blue washing over you. There are hugs, smiles, tears and strong-arm selfies everywhere. But you also see those knowing glances and the nods that something is missing. We all feel it.

March is a time where we also reflect on those we’ve lost, and it is heart wrenching. The Colon Club had a tough year, and I lost several other friends too. This was our first March without them, and their absence was felt deeply. I looked at seats where my friends should be, and it hurt just as badly as the day we lost them. After all of this, you may be wondering why do we continue to do this?

The answer is simple. We do it so more people don’t end up in our shoes. Because we are the voices for those that are gone, we are the voices of experience, and we are the loved ones who miss their family and friends. So, while we talked about poop, colonoscopies, and all things colorectal cancer to anyone who would listen in March; it was okay to not be okay while doing it.

Diana Sloan is originally from Chesapeake, Virginia, and is a graduate of James Madison University. She currently lives in Lakeway, Texas, with her husband of nineteen years and their three daughters. Diana was an English teacher until 2012 when she was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer. She is currently in treatment and spends her free time making memories with her friends and family. She is also active in the colorectal cancer community and is the blog manager for The Colon Club, an all-volunteer advocacy group.

For more information about Call on Congress visit: https://fightcolorectalcancer.org/