By Patricia Rodi

“It’s cancer.” At this moment, the world stops … my womanhood, my motherhood, and my life are tossed aside to fight the evil inside me. Diagnosed with Stage IIIB Stomach Cancer, I learned how strong I could be, how strong I had to be, and what I needed to do to give myself the best chance of survival, despite the grim prognosis. Given up to 3 months to live, I followed everything my surgeon recommended—surgery, and if successful, chemo- and radiation—therapies.

Entering surgery with the idea I could awaken with part of my stomach and a chance to continue my life, or with the tumours unremovable, the disease was found to be more advanced than expected. I was left with no stomach at all and one-third less of my esophagus. Years of learning to eat and what I can tolerate was an expensive experience—testing my limits and what my new anatomy would accept.

To go ahead or give up?

The real struggle would come when chemotherapy filled my veins and radiation burned my skin (and everything underneath). How much could I take before giving up? How ugly would I feel before saying it’s enough?

My strength came from my 2-year-old baby girl, Isabella. How could I abandon her, knowing she would not remember her mother when she was older? Understanding I had no control over the outcome, I went the distance, vomiting my way through each day. Loss of hair, weight, hope, and physical strength did not deter me. I would fight like hell. And every day I received was another day with my baby, even though I could not mother her at all.

Becoming a Writer

The fight gave me 17 more years—and counting. It also pushed me to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a writer. Turning to writing most of my life, being published never seemed to be in the cards. Today, I’m proud to have published my memoir, exploring my cancer journey and life after cancer—all the questions, the fears, the struggles, the me of the future, what I can give to others with similar struggles, and what I’ll teach my daughter, who is now 19 years old.

A miracle brought me here, and the reason I got cancer doesn’t matter. All that matters is what I did because of it.

Please join me at my first book-signing event for WHAT COMES AFTER CANCER at Indigo—Gloucester, near Ottawa, Ontario, on Sunday, June 12, 2022, between 1:00—4:00 p.m. I would love to meet you and hear your survival story. Follow my journey @PatriciaRodiMtl.