Kimberly’s Story

I found out I had cancer without my doctor saying the word “cancer.”

I was constipated and constantly bloated. My bowel movements weren’t voiding completely, and blood was in my stool.

In March 2015, I was still feeling off, so I scheduled an OBGYN appointment. I was told it was probably hemorrhoids and sent home with a fecal occult blood test, which tests for colorectal cancer. It came back negative, but I kept pushing for answers. I knew something was off with my health, but I didn’t know what.

In July, I went in for a colonoscopy consultation. I didn’t know how to explain the amount of blood in my stool, so I took a picture and showed it to my nurse. Immediately, her face and energy changed. She got me in the next week for an actual colonoscopy.

After the procedure, my doctor told me they found a large tumor in my colon. I was giddy from the drugs, but that immediately sobered me up. “Wait. Are you saying I have cancer?” I asked him. He said, “Yes.” I never saw the world the same after.

I was now 47, thrown into the medical world with this huge tumor and stage II colon cancer diagnosis. Radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, then more radiation was recommended. At that moment, I decided that I was going to beat this. I wanted to celebrate being on the other side.

A bowel obstruction sent me to emergency surgery, and I almost didn’t make it. I woke up with an ostomy—which I knew I was going to get temporarily—but the doctors asked me to keep it for 2 years due to perforation. During those 2 years, I became appreciative of the experience and decided to keep it. I didn’t want any more surgeries. Life seemed to be fine with it.

I first showed Toodles (my ostomy) on a beach in Jamaica. Then, I started taking pictures to reaffirm my femininity and my body. I was already on a self-acceptance journey for 20+ years. Having this ostomy grew me up even more.


Kimberly’s Advice:

Remember to grieve. You are losing a part of your body, and grieving is essential to healing. Healing has a chance to come in, followed by grace and forgiveness. Learning to live with your ostomy is a process, but smiles, sunshine, purpose, and your voice will soon have the opportunity to come through.

Kimberly’s Instagram: @kimberlyhcoleman