The families and individuals who LivON has touched have shared some of their stories below. Thank you for the continued support and know that you are making a difference. LivON!
I would personally like to thank all of the volunteers and supporters of the LivON Foundation. Your generous gift to our family while Sam was battling, was a huge answer to prayer. Receiving the extra money from you gave us the comfort in knowing that medical bills could be paid without worry. The additional gift at Christmas time allowed for me to provide a special “First Christmas without Sam,” for our boys.
SAMSTRONG was started when my husband, Sam Jennings, age 39, was battling stage 4 Colon Cancer. Sam’s faith, strength, and determination throughout his 17-month battle inspired not only those who knew him, but many who are only now hearing his story. We were blessed to have met and developed a friendship with Olivia. She was a remarkable woman who gave Sam, and me, great emotional and medical support, during the most difficult time in our lives.
The support the LivON Foundation gave to our family will never be forgotten. I feel honored to be able to be a volunteer for the LivON Foundation and help to educate and promote awarenss for early detection of Colon Cancer!
In faith, hope, and love,
To everyone at LivON, I wanted to thank you all so much for the help you’ve given my family. Your gift to us earlier this year gave us a chance to take a fantastic family vacation to Disney World in April. It’s something we’d been meaning to do for a while, but we kept putting it off, in large part because it was difficult for us to commit so much money to a vacation when we were never sure what the future would hold for us, medically or financially. Getting that extra money from you finally gave us the breathing room to take the dream vacation we always wanted. It was perfect – we stayed in a beautiful villa, visited almost all of the parks, ate delicious food, and went on any ride we could go on with a three-year-old. We didn’t have to skip out on anything we wanted to do, and we didn’t have to be constantly worried about how much we were spending. Plus, Ryan had an exceptionally healthy week that week, so even though theme parks can be exhausting, he was remarkably energetic and able to enjoy it all. It was so much fun, and we’ll have those memories forever.
About two weeks after we got back from Disney, Ryan’s disease suddenly started to progress very quickly. He died on June 22. Without your help, I know we would have never taken that trip. We would have kept finding reasons to put it off until it was too late. I can’t thank you enough for helping us give our children those amazing, special memories of their father.
The attached picture is one of the few that exist of all four of us together.
Thank you so much for everything,
Poop isn’t typically something one talks about. Especially not me. I was raised by a mother, who didn’t even allow us to say the word fart, much less discuss our bowel movements.
I have suffered with constipation, as long as I can remember. So when I noticed the occasional blood in my stool and increase in frequency, I didn’t talk about it. I told myself it was probably some sort of internal hemorrhoid, and as always, would soon go away. The blood was red, not dark. I often felt bloated, but it was nothing that an over the counter colon cleanse wouldn’t cure. Vegetable laxatives helped, too. It may sound like I have spent a lot of time thinking about poop, but that is not the case. It was an afterthought, an inconvenience, pop a pill and just get on with it. I was too busy to deal with a problem. Besides, no one in the family even had cancer. Once or twice I was concerned enough that I visited a website to check out my symptoms, but I didn’t have ALL the symptoms. No unexplained weight loss. No black tarry stools. Anyway, I didn’t want anyone putting a scope up my bum. That would be so embarrassing. I told myself it was probably because: A. I don’t drink enough water. B. I won’t “go” at work or any public bathroom. C. this is my normal. D. my diet is awful. If I change these things everything will be better.
I was also suffering from chronic indigestion and trying all the over the counter antacids and reflux meds. I was suffering to the point that I actually made an appointment with Gastro, and knowing Olivia’s situation made me aware that it could be something more serious. I prepared myself to hear that I would need an endoscopy and that I had an ulcer. During the course of the visit with Gastroenterology Ltd., I owned up to the bowel problems too. So, I left the office having been scheduled for endoscopy and colonoscopy.
OK. The infamous prep isn’t fun. Nasty drinks. Food cravings. Big pity party.
Truth be told, in the afternoon once the laxatives kick in and you are pooping your brains out, you forget about being hungry.
Props to all the folks who work in Gastroenterology. You are unsung heroes. But as lovely as you are, I am so glad I got to sleep through our time together. There are just some things you just don’t want to know or see.
I awoke from my procedure to see my husband, and shortly after I saw my doctor. He told me he had found a hiatal hernia and in my colon he found a mass. It was about an inch in size. He had done a biopsy and had also tattooed my colon at the location of the mass. (I always imagined a tattooed dotted line and the words “cut here”). It was suspicious for adenocarcinoma. He would let me know as soon as the pathology came back from the lab.
I’d hoped I’d never hear the word cancer; but when I did, my reaction was “lets figure out what it is and how bad it is, so we can get a plan to get rid of it.” Oh my God, the waiting was excruciating. Once I got the news it began to look promising. My CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen) bloodwork was normal. My scan seemed to show that the cancer had stayed within the colon. They labeled it stage I to stage II colon cancer.
My surgery went well. My surgeon told me that my cancer was stage I and that all my lymph nodes he biopsied were negative (It hadn’t spread!). He told me I was cancer free. CANCER FREE!!
I tell people that I had colon cancer and that I am the luckiest person I know. I remind myself that I have been given a second chance. A chance to do all the right things like eat right, exercise, and make taking care of myself a priority. The changes are coming, however slowly.
When I told my siblings about my diagnosis, I heard from 4 of them, that they had had polyps removed during their colonoscopies. But they never told me. If I had known there was a family history, I think it would have been harder to ignore my symptoms.
The lesson that cancer taught me is: we need to start talking about poop. Sorry Mom, but poop is too important to pretend it doesn’t happen. You CAN actually die of embarrassment.
I read a book to my kids when they were potty training called “Everyone Poops”. Maybe we should have a grown-up version… “Poop Should Be Easy” or “If Your Poop and It Looks Like it Came from the Cat Box…You Might Have a Problem”. At the Gastro Office they used the words “a less than satisfactory evacuation.” It sounded so formal that it made me giggle. Everyone poops. We should all talk about it!
I’ve known David since 2000; he was my swim coach at Ocean Lakes and we later ended up working together as lifeguards with Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service. I met Olivia when I was working for DonJoy, Inc. and had Virginia Institute for Sports Medicine as one of my clinics. I still remember the first time I overheard her mention about this guy, David, that she had met. It was soon clear that “this guy” was also my former swim coach. It was such a small world!
I moved out of the area at the end of August 2011 to attend physical therapy school. At that point, I had been experiencing stomach issues for about a year. I had always attributed these issues to eating too much, having a sour belly, or eating something that was too spicy or sweet, etc. I had grown used to my stomach feeling bloated, full, or sour. When I first heard about Olivia’s diagnosis, it made me realize that I needed to go see my doctor. I first went to my primary care physician and she had me try an elimination diet. I tried to go without dairy and then gluten. I felt some relief each time but I would still have my sour feeling. My stomach still just wasn’t right.
In May 2013, I went to see a gastroenterologist while I was at school. He decided it would be a good idea to have a colonoscopy to see if there was anything we were missing. The closest date he had was the day after our last final exam of a very vigorous semester. I remember having a thought that I could just do it a couple weeks later so that I could celebrate with my classmates but I changed my mind–I had put this off for far too long. Everything seemed to go well in the colonoscopy and my doctor said he would call if he found anything unusual. That phone call came not too long after my appointment. He told me that for the most part, everything was fine. He did remove a polyp during my colonoscopy and sent it to the lab for more testing. He classified the polyp as an adenoma and that it was considered pre-cancerous. He did remove the entire polyp and did not see any other polyps. With this finding and the fact that I was 26 years old at the time, he recommended that I get another colonoscopy in 3 years and then every 3 years after that. Without hearing of Olivia’s story, I’m not certain when I finally would have stopped making excuses and gone to see a physician. I am very certain that because of Olivia’s story, I stopped ignoring my own stomach issues that had been going on for years. I’ll gladly get another colonoscopy in 2016 and I’ll thank Liv for the fact that my pre-cancerous polyp was removed before it could turn into anything more.
I only met Olivia once for a triathlon, but she was so lively and strong. When I found out she was sick, I was floored. If such a tough and healthy athlete could get cancer, then what about me?! When I started having serious digestive troubles, I got very scared and immediately thought cancer because of Olivia and the fact that we were the same age. I urged my doctor to schedule a colonoscopy even though I was “so young” (37). They found 3 non-cancerous polyps. After that scare, I over-hauled my diet and started taking my digestive health more seriously. I am now on a 5-year screening window as well.
I know Olivia’s painful experience has changed my life. I feel so much better and who knows what would have happened if I had waited until age 50 for my first screening.
Hugs to Dave and the Naples family. May they LivON and stay strong!
I have known David Bostic for many years and never saw him happier than he was with Liv. I only wish I had the opportunity to meet her. From what I knew of her, she was strong and beautiful and captured my friend’s heart. That is not an easy task. Liv was diagnosed at an early age with colon cancer. Through her Caring Bridge and LivON Facebook pages, I watched not only the progression of the disease that eventually claimed her life, but I was inspired to have a colonoscopy at 42. Like Liv, I take good care of myself. I run half-marathons, lift weights and do yoga. For the most part, I eat a fairly healthy diet. The colonoscopy revealed a villous adenoma in the rectum, which left untreated has up to a 40% chance of becoming cancerous. The doctor also found an adenomatous polyp in the ascending colon. The good news is that adenomatous polyps are the most common type of polyp that are found in the colon. They are considered precancerous, but only about 5% progress to cancer. Both the villous adenoma and the adenomatous polyps were removed but I will have to have yearly scans for the rest of my life. I can say with complete honesty, that if not for Dave and Liv and the LivON Foundation, I would never have even thought to have a colonoscopy at 42. I am thankful for Dave and Liv’s work with the LivON Foundation. I hope more people take charge of their own health. And I do understand that scheduling, having and talking about having a colonoscopy can be somewhat embarrassing. Look past that. Live through the embarrassment.