Meet Ms. October | Staci Wills

Now although she does have striking resemblance to her, October’s model is not Barbara Eden from I Dream of Jeannie. It’s Staci Wills, a brave rectal cancer survivor from Canfield, OH. Read on to learn more about this funny, charming survivor we’re proud to call one of our own at The Colon Club.

The BASICS

Staci-wills-stage-3-rectal-cancerName: Staci Wills

Diagnosis: Stage III rectal cancer in July 2009.

Age at Diagnosis: 32

 

ON SURVIVING CANCER:

Where were you when you found out you had colon cancer? 

It was at the colonoscopy.

How did you feel?

Fine. My husband cried; I didn’t cry. When I asked about more babies and he told me I’d be sterile, that’s what I cried. Cancer seemed like an inconvenience and something to get through. I didn’t have a hard time dealing with cancer, I had a hard time dealing with how cancer affected my life.

What were your symptoms?

Rectal bleeding was the number one symptom. I had lost weight, was anemic and felt tired all of the time. I had every symptom of rectal cancer, but we didn’t put them together and instead saw them individually.

What did your treatment involve?

Six weeks of chemo and radiation pre-op; 2 surgeries – had an APR and 2 days later had another surgery because I had a small bowel obstruction. From there, I ended up in cardiac unit because of side effects of radiation. I came home on the 2nd b-day of our son.

Worst thing about treatment?

Feeling like I was putting my life on hold. I wanted to do things, be with my kids and volunteer. I wanted to be up and and active, and I physically couldn’t at times.

What got you through cancer treatment? Any goals or mindsets that plowed you through?

My faith; I started and ended every day with prayer. And I prayed all the way through it. So did my husband.

Does cancer run in your family?

Yes – genetic testing that created my family tree showed that on mom’s side – there is a gastro cancer in every generation. Several bouts of colon cancer. Not until it was on paper did we realize it ran in the family.

staci-tim-ohio-colondar-modelsWHAT HAS SURVIVING CANCER TAUGHT YOU…

About your body?

To listen to it; don’t overlook it. Don’t take it for granted. When you have something, get it checked out. I feel at times like my body has failed me; I am 34 years old and I deal with stuff 80-year-olds deal with. I have so many things in common with my 80-year-old grandparents. Sometimes I look at my friends who are my age and they get it; others don’t get it.

 About life?

Enjoy it, and look at it day-by-day. Be grateful even more than you enjoy it.

About family?

They’re the most important thing on the face of this earth. They’ll be there for you no matter what.

Do you do anything now that you didn’t thanks to cancer?

Poop out of my front – haha.

I’m definitely more aware of what it is that I put into my body, what is around me. More cautious of environmental factors. It’s made me more aware and more humble.

How has cancer changed your life for the better?

It goes back to being grateful – I’m so thankful for everything in my life. So thankful and I feel blessed for the people God has put in my life.

What do you hope your message and survival story will do for others?

Hope to save the heartache of one young mother who spots blood, has constipation or fatigue. I hope it saves her the heartache that I’ve been through and help her by having her find it earlier.

They said it took  5-7 years for my polyp to develop – we could have found it earlier. Had we looked at the symptoms closer, I might not have had to go through anything.

How is life with an ostomy?

Perfectly fine. My only complaint is that there are not bathing suits made for an ostomy. I need a high-wasted Marilyn Monroe bikini; I’d be good to go. It’s easier, especially during radiation. (READ MORE – Staci found a bathing suit!) When they told me I’d have an ostomy, I said – “So you’re telling me I’ll have my life if I have a colostomy.” From there I was perfectly fine with it.

RANDOM INFO ABOUT STACI

Job?  I’m a stay at home mom; I have my Masters in curriculum. Before I had my kids I taught 4th and 5th grade for 5 years.

First job ever? Parking cars at the Canfield Fair in 8th grade

Collect anything?  Vera Bradley bags

Hobbies?  Writing & blogging. Pre-cancer I would bike ride and horseback ride.

Where are you from?  Canfield, Ohio

Quirks? I got a labeler for Christmas;  I’m OCD to no end and love to organize. Oh – and I won’t go to movie theaters – I’m not into germs.