April 29, 2021

COVID Diaries: A Blessing in Disguise

I have an interesting guest post to share today as part of the COVID Diaries series. This series is to get a glimpse into people's lives over the past year and how the virus has had a drastic effect on them.

This one is a little different from the previous ones I've shared--it was actually a COVID-19 diagnosis that ultimately saved a woman's life. As horrible as the virus is, it's nice to read a positive outcome. This post is written by Anita, with her mom's and sisters' permission.



My mother has always been very healthy despite not keeping up with regular screenings like mammograms and pap tests. She was 70 years old before she ever had a colonoscopy, and even then, she only did so because my sisters and I pestered her about it. The colonoscopy came back clear with no issues.

This is my mom preparing food for my brother's wedding

In October of 2020, she was diagnosed with COVID-19, displaying very mild symptoms other than some digestive issues. We heard that this was unusual but not unheard of with COVID-19. She began to get a lot of pain in her abdomen and finally went to Urgent Care where they sent her to the hospital with a suspected bowel obstruction.

After being sent home, she returned because she was still experiencing intense pain. The doctors ended up performing emergency surgery for a bowel obstruction--and she was given a startling diagnosis of colon cancer and subsequently had a colostomy!

We were all understandably shocked and scared. After the surgery, Mom spent many days in the ICU where only one of my sisters could visit (she had already had COVID-19 previously, so had a natural immunity). Prior to getting COVID-19, my mother had no issues that would have caused her to suspect she had colon cancer and her colonoscopy was clear only eight years before. [Guidelines specify that people who aren't at high risk for colon cancer should have a screening every 10 years.]

Because of her cancer diagnosis, she decided to get genetic testing done--and found out that she carries the BRCA gene mutation. This mutation carries a higher risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers. She learned that because she carries it, her four daughters have a 50% change of carrying the gene mutation as well.

My three sisters and I decided to have genetic testing done. My youngest sister tested positive for the BRCA gene mutation so she chose to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lessen her chances of getting ovarian cancer. She and our mother are also having more frequent mammograms and breast MRI's to keep tabs on their breast health.

Sisters--I'm driving; my youngest sister is the one taking the selfie

My genetic test results came back negative for the BRCA mutation and my other two sisters are still awaiting their results. Mom is doing very well now and will soon finish her chemotherapy treatments; she has another surgery scheduled in June to reverse the colostomy and have her ovaries and tubes removed.

Mom admitted to me that she did not plan to ever get another colonoscopy since her first and only one was clear and she enjoys great health. Had she not gotten COVID-19 and developed digestive issues from it, it's very likely the colon cancer would have gone undiagnosed until possibly too late for treatment.

She also would not have gotten the genetic testing. In that case, my youngest sister would not have known she carries the BRCA gene mutation, which allowed her to take steps to greatly lesson her cancer risk. We all have daughters and feel it's also important to their health to be aware of any genetic issues they could inherit. 

As terrible as COVID-19 can be, I am actually thankful that my mother contracted it so these underlying conditions could be found and dealt with. I am a firm believer that "all things work together for good" and that God had his hand on my family through this pandemic. None of us will be skipping future colonoscopies or mammograms. These are simple procedures with minimal discomfort that can save lives.  

My sisters and I are very close and have many fun adventures together and with our mother.  I'm so grateful that we are taking care of our health so we can continue sharing our lives for many years to come.

My sisters and me with our parents



If any of you have been affected by COVID-19 in some way (whether you work with COVID patients or became severely ill, or your job has suffered significantly because of it, etc.) and you're interested in sharing your story, please send me an email! I think reading these stories is eye-opening and it allows us to see how this virus has affected people all over the world. You can email me at: katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com for a possible guest post.

Anita, thanks so much for sharing--I'm so happy that your mom is doing well! It's great that your family was able to discover all of this early-on.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing this story! As someone who has been blessedly unaffected personally by Covid, I enjoy the insight to what others have experienced. I'm so happy for the positive outcome for this family.

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  2. I love that you share these kinds of things, Katie! You have a great heart :)

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  3. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm glad that there is positive - it's nice to read amongst all the negative that we are bombarded with. I know when my parents have health scares, it gives me the wake up call to make sure to appreciate them more than normal. Glad you have that much more time with your loved ones.

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  4. What a phenomenal story. Love seeing how something negative can lead to such a discovery. You just never know. Thanks for sharing this.

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