Michelle Blood has always been in control of her life. She’s a mom to three young girls, has a successful career in pharmaceutical sales, and lives a healthy lifestyle. But at 39 years old, everything changed with three simple words: You Have Cancer.
“Cancer wasn’t even on my radar. I knew something may be wrong because I was having some bleeding—I thought I had IBS or allergies. But cancer, no way. I didn’t even have an inkling,” she said of her shocking diagnosis.
Michelle’s journey started after her third daughter was born. She was having some bleeding and mentioned it to her PCP at her annual physical. Her doctor referred her to a GI doctor to get checked out, which she did right away. She described her GI exam as a “light check” with the doctor who did not recommend additional tests or follow-up.
Michelle recalls, “I specifically remember the doctor saying, ‘nothing warrants me to think you need a colonoscopy.’ Then a year went by until my next physical when I mentioned at the very end of my appointment that I was still bleeding. My PCP dropped everything and told me I needed a colonoscopy. She literally saved my life.”
A few days after the test, Michelle received the dreaded news from the doctors that they found a tumor and thought it was cancer. She describes feeling very helpless and in a fog when she was diagnosed with stage 3-plus colorectal cancer. She remembers a doctor handing her a phone number of a specialist to call and “try to get on their schedule.” This was completely uncharted territory for Michelle. No one in her immediate family has ever been diagnosed with cancer. She was at a loss and said, “My head was spinning. I didn’t even know where to start.” Luckily, she had a friend whose husband had a similar diagnosis and quickly put Michelle in touch with her husband’s care team at UC Health.
“Once I got into the system, they handled everything. I was expedited because I was stage 3-plus. I was hooked up with a coordinator the first day and they handled everything. They had it all mapped out. I didn’t have to think—I just had to show up. I was taking in the enormity of it all and I needed someone to tell me what to do.”