Name: Jody Mason
Hometown: Avondale, NL
What was/is your diagnosis? Bowel cancer / liver cancer
What school did you attend? Memorial University of Newfoundland. I graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor of Commerce (Co-op) degree.
What are your career goals? To live a long life.
What is your occupation? Sales Manager
Your cancer experience:
How did you find out you were sick? What led to your diagnosis?
I first thought that I had some sort of constipation, which didn’t get better with some medication that ended up making me sick. I went to the hospital after three days and was admitted. Once there, I had a CT scan done which showed a complete bowel blockage as well as a spot on my liver. Once I had my surgery done and a colostomy performed, a biopsy was done on the blockage and turned out to be cancer.
What year was it? What was your age at the time?
2011, I was 32.
In which hospitals were you treated?
St. Clares Mercy Hospital
At what level of education were you at diagnosis?
Had finished university.
What were your first thoughts when diagnosed?
WTF? I was totally surprised. There was no family history of it, I lead a somewhat healthy lifestyle and I ended up with cancer?
How did your family react?
I never really asked per se what they felt but I would assume they were just as shocked as I was. My sister and her boyfriend flew home from British Columbia once she heard I was sick and helped out with all kinds of things while I was in hospital.
How did your friends react? Were you treated differently, or did things remain the same?
They were shocked, too. I have never really had any bad illnesses compared to some of my friends, I never missed a lot of work, etc, and then this. I was treated a little differently but not in a bad way. Some old friends who I lost contact with were in contact again, I developed some better relationships based on friends personal experiences with cancer, and all of my friends were a great help through the whole ordeal.
What did your treatment consist of?
First I had the bowel blockage removed and colostomy performed. Then I had 12 chemotherapy sessions scheduled some time later. I had six first, then I had to have liver surgery to remove the cancer there, had the colostomy reversed and then after healing from that, I had my last six treatments.
As far as chemo goes, I think I had it pretty good. I wasn’t a “typical” chemo patient: I never lost my appetite, only got nauseated once, and I gained weight. The side effects weren’t anything out of the normal from what they told me would happen. Of course I had my good days and bad days, but I didn’t let it get me down.
What is your current medical status?
As of Feb 2012, my CEA levels are normal and treatment has been completed.
How is life different for you now post diagnosis?
Well, my eyes have certainly been opened, to say the least. Life is short, you never know when you could have your last day on earth so try to live each day to the fullest and never take your health for granted.
What was the toughest part of your challenge?
I think the toughest part of it all was realizing how mortal I really was. I know that might sounds a bit odd, but I never really thought about death or any type of serious illness that I would ever get. I know that the cancer that I had was “curable” but still, this was cancer, the silent killer. It really makes you take a long look at your life, to say the least.
What was the best lesson you took away from your challenge?
Laughter is the best medicine. When I found out that I had cancer, I was like, “do what you have to do in order to get me better” and joked my way through the whole sickness/treatment.
Using my humor helped me, my family, and my friends deal with such a shady topic. I tried to find the silver lining in all the bumps in the road that happened along the way and used my “cancer” comedy routine in order to make people feel more comfortable about me having the illness. Oh, the stories I can tell.
What really motivated you to keep going while you were sick?
I’m only 33. I have a lot more life left to live and wasn’t going to let this be the end of me. There’s a lot more to this world that what I have seen and want to see/experience it. If that’s not motivation enough, I don’t know what is.
What are your thoughts and feelings about your illness now? How have they changed since before your diagnosis?
Well, they say whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. Who are “they” anyway?
I wouldn’t want to wish cancer on anyone but I think that it’s after making me a better person after dealing with it. Like I said before, it opened my eyes to the old way I lived my life to the way I’m going to live it now. Nike had it right when they said “Just do it,” or as Tom Cruise says in Risky Business, “Sometimes you just have to say ‘What the F***’!”
What are some preventative measures that people can take to lower their risk of having an experience like yours?
Now this I wouldn’t be able to tell you. They didn’t know what caused it and neither do I. It’s not like I chewed on asbestos when I was a kid.
Did you attend any support groups during your challenge?
If you did not attend a support group, why?
I had a great network of friends—some of which even had cancer and have beaten it—so I didn’t feel the need to go to any.
How are you connected with Young Adult Cancer Canada?
It turned out that a friend of mine who I went to university with had a job with YACC so she made me aware of all the programs and support that they offered if I needed it.
If you are interested in connecting with Jody Mason please email firstname.lastname@example.org.