Meet Andy Snyder

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Well, I have had an interesting ride of the past 7 years. It was recommended to have a colonoscopy after I noticed what I thought was a minor symptom, blood in my stool. As I sat on the table about to enjoy the wild ride of anesthesia, I had not a worry in the world. After waking up and seeing the doctor, he informed me that the result was not good: a cancerous mass was found in my rectum. Finding a local, highly-recommended Oncologist, several scans were set in place of my pelvic area, abdomen and chest. The results were confirmed that I had rectal cancer, but even more worrisome, they saw a mass in my lungs and liver, which lead to more scans. Fortunately, it ended up just being scar tissue. Before hearing that, I thought I was a goner.

My amazing in-laws did some research and found a doctor at Memorial Sloan Kettering, Dr. Martin Weiser, who immediately made me feel at ease giving me the news that I would be around to bug and annoy my family for a long, long time. Dr. Weiser's entire staff was amazing and couldn't have asked for anyone better. I began my treatment: 4 months of chemo followed by 5 weeks of radiation treatment every morning. Rounding out my treatment plan was a final, rough month of chemo infusions 24 hours a day.

Several months later, I had my first surgery where they removed my rectum, attached a temporary ileostomy in 2012, with the expectation of a reversal a few months later. I was at first taken back with the ostomy not knowing what to expect. As many experience, I did not feel good about it. I was happy to have my reversal several months later in 2013, and I would have to say from this point on things went downhill. Like many people who have had a reversal, I experienced increased, uncomfortable trips back and forth to the bathroom.

Eventually, things seemed to get better, and my life was getting back to normal. Then, all of a sudden, BOOM, my colon just shut down. For whatever reason, I could not go to the bathroom anymore. I went just enough so that I wouldn't have to be hospitalized and pumped. I saw several specialists, tried physical therapy, medications and nothing would kick start it.

After quite some time, I had a decision to make: try and continue to get my colon rockin’ and rollin’ or move to a permanent colostomy. I chose the latter and am thrilled and happy to have it. I am thankful everyday for my new friend, "Stan the Stoma", who joined me in 2016. For me, it was about perspective. The first surgery was tough on me having a temporary ostomy, but once I no longer could use the bathroom, I found it one of the best things to happen in my life.

My days are no different than they were prior to my surgeries. I exercise with weights multiple times a week, go swimming, enjoy the beach, biking and anything and everything all non-ostomates can do. People may feel their lives are over, but for me, I absolutely disagree. My life is amazing, and I am proud to being wearing an ostomy bag. Sure, at times, when in a meeting with a VP at my job, "Stan the Stoma" may make a little noise, but, eh, who cares? I usually laugh it off in my head and move on.

Having an ostomy has truly been a wonderful experience, and though not one I expected to have, I would never change it even if given the opportunity for a reversal. It is a part of my life and a part of me and will be for the remainder of my time here!

 

Having an ostomy has truly been a wonderful experience, and though not one I expected to have, I would never change it even if given the opportunity for a reversal. It is a part of my life and a part of me and will be for the remainder of my time here!

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