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BRIDGET – INTESTINAL CANCERBridget - Bodies of Courage Bodypainted Cancer Survivors

My name is Bridget. I have been a volunteer for Faces of Courage for 10 years! In August of 2011, I was on assignment as a first responder in a disaster zone in Montana.
The interesting thing about these assignments is that you work yourself out of a job.

Around the time the Montana site was being completed, and I was thinking about a new site, I started feeling ill.
I decided to take some time off and go back home to Tampa for a while.
I was concerned about my digestive system, as I had not had a bowel movement in TEN days.
I was eating only liquids: jello and soup. I felt like it might be an inflamed appendix.
On the morning of the day I was scheduled to go to a new location, I began throwing up and didn’t stop.

At the Emergency Room the doctor informed me that I had cancer, and that is was blocking my intestines.
And then he said: “We are gonna cut today.”
I had no idea who this Doctor was, and was not prepared to let him “cut.”
He had a dreadful bedside manner and was new to this area.
My family began freaking out because I was refusing life saving surgery, but I just needed to know more.
That is when family and friends stepped in.
Peggie Sherry, of Faces of Courage , came to my room and I explained my concerns.
My Sister, a very organized Attorney’s Assistant, initiated a detailed background search on this Doctor.
So, with Peggie by my side, I signed the consent forms.
He would “cut.” I now call this Physican by his first name, and he has performed all of my surgeries.

What followed were numerous surgeries, long hospital stays, an ileostomy, a colostomy and then reversals of both.
Then throw in kidney failure, a major infection and dehydration and a 30 day hospital stay./p>

Throughout this experience I was amazed at the behavior of those around me.
My family lifted me up and really stepped up to help me in every way.
Some people went way out of their comfort zone and did things I never thought they could do.
Some people just phoned it in.

My feelings and reactions during this time were definitely affected by my experience in disaster training and by my experiences as a volunteer at Faces of Courage camps.
Both the Women’s and the Children’s Camps. I have seen so much pain and the horrific scars from surgeries.
But the kids are so resilient, and the women have so much strength within them!
They overcome the fears of the battle. I was afraid of living with external bags; I couldn’t imagine how one could do it. Fortunately, I don’t have to any more.

People frequently ask me “How did you do it?”
I tell them that I don’t want to think about the past, I don’t want to look back.

EDITORS NOTE: In Jan. 2014, Bridget lost her battle with Cancer.