Fighting the Beast: Kozian takes on colon cancer

Nurses at McLaren Oncology celebrate the end of Kozian’s chemo treatments. Photo by Dennis Kozian

Nurses at McLaren Oncology celebrate the end of Kozian’s chemo treatments. Photo by Dennis Kozian

Brian Crump ’15

Entertainment Editor

Cancer is a very scary word, and even more so to have to go through it. Newspaper, Journalism, and English 11 teacher Kim Kozian has been through a cancer scare recently, and Kozian was diagnosed with cancer of the colon, which was discovered during another routine surgery. When a person thinks of cancer, they usually think of the treatment that goes along with it, to help combat it.

“Treatment consisted of 12 rounds of chemotherapy… The way it works is: I had an infusion of two chemo drugs at the oncology center, and then I had to wear a ‘take-home’ pump, for 46 hours which administered the third drug,” Kozian said.

This treatment took about five months to complete, beginning in the end of March and finishing it up in the final week of August.

Now, just because the chemotherapy is over, that does not mean that there is not any reason to still be worried about the cancer. Kozian is to return to have a CT scan, and then will go on to her oncologist to check if everything is cleared up. After that, Kozian will be going back to see her oncologist every three months for the next two years.

Kozian was in surgery when this cancer was discovered, so imagine her surprise when she woke up to find out what they had found. Even though Kozian was upset about this, she had trust in the doctors.

“When I woke up, they told me what they had found and it’s quite upsetting for sure. But the doctors were very good – they were certain they had gotten everything and were reassuring.”

Kozian was not expecting to have to go through the chemo treatments, but had no choice in the matter. She kept her head high, looked forward, and stayed as positive as could be. When Kozian went in for a PET scan in June, the scan showed no cancer, which was a great relief off of her shoulders.

Another thing that comes with the cancer and chemotherapy is all of the side effects that may happen. Kozian experienced a few of these.

“I did have a strong cold sensitivity, and a tingling sensation in my fingers when I touched anything cold. “

This affected some of the things she enjoyed, “I couldn’t have ice cream or ice in anything. That was a bummer because I love ice cream!”

This also affected her sleeping, as Kozian napped much more than she usually does. Of course, there were to be some effects that stuck around like the sensitivity of the mouth. A bigger effect of this was that Kozian’s immune system was at a low point, which meant that she had to be careful of who she was around, especially in school. Getting sick would only delay the treatment and make the entire procedure take longer.

A cancer scare also comes with a very strong emotional response, not only from the patient but also from those close to the patient.

“I had a wonderful support system at school – so many encouraging cards, gifts, texts, etc,” Kozian said. English teacher John Alwardt texted her during every single treatment! “I don’t know how he remembered!” she said.

Her parents were also there to assist her through this tough time. “My dad took me to every treatment, and when he couldn’t, my mom did. My mom stayed with me during my surgery recovery for over a month.”

Kozian also told of a friend, who she hadn’t heard from after the diagnosis.

“I couldn’t imagine why but come to find out, her cousin had passed away from brain cancer years ago, and she was having a hard time dealing with my diagnosis. It affects everyone differently. I had to keep that in mind,” she said.

Cancer is such a huge experience to deal with. The treatment and the side effects of the chemo are tough to go through. With the love and support of friends and family, however, it makes the whole journey just a little bit easier.