Even if youâ€™ve stared death straight in the eye, battled cancer and claimed victory, talking in front of a group of people can prove nerve-wracking.
Joyce Houser has told her story of surviving colon cancer to rooms packed with people, despite her stage fright. Sheâ€™s decided overcoming her nervousness is worth raising awareness.
â€œIf you can change one personâ€™s life, save a life, itâ€™s worth it,â€ she said.
Houserâ€™s story begins in 2000 in her doctorâ€™s office. She went to find out the source of her abdomen pain.
Things were going along fine, if slightly uncomfortably, when Houserâ€™s doctor said something no one wants to hear.
â€œHe came across the tumor, and he said â€˜Oh my God, I think itâ€™s cancer,â€ said Houser.
At the age of 37 with no history in her family, Houser thought she was too young for colon cancer. The news came as a shock.
In April of 2000, Houser was operated on. A full six months of chemotherapy followed.
During this time, Houserâ€™s grandmother was also diagnosed with colon cancer. Unlike Houser, she didnâ€™t survive.
Despite the circumstances of her life, Houser attempted to live a normal life and worked full time.
â€œI just felt like if I sat at home, I would just go crazy,â€ she said.
Her husband and son acted as her support. They were also emotionally affected by the disease, but they tried not to show it.
â€œI thought (my son) was doing fine, but the teachers told me he was quiet,â€ said Houser.
Fortunately life has lightened up a bit in the Houser household. These days, she has a clean bill of health; her stress comes from speaking engagements and food choices.
Houser knows, for example, red meat will do her no good. Even so, she canâ€™t resist caving in and eating unhealthy food every now and then.
â€œYou still eat them, but you think about it,â€ she said.
Houser has also become heavily involved in Relay for Life. This year, she is La-Z-Boyâ€™s team captain.
This will be her fifth year participating the event. Her first year she was still in the middle of her battle with cancer.
The survivorâ€™s lap is what sticks with her the most.
â€œItâ€™s still emotional, especially when your family comes and joins the lap with you,â€ she said.
Houser gets check-ups every six months, and she encourages others to also be vigilant when it comes to their health.
â€œIf they are having any kinds of problems and are unsure, they should go to a doctor,â€ she said.
This advice comes from experience â€“ Houserâ€™s cancer scare could have been a lot more serious.
â€œI did put mine off, and it was almost too late,â€ she said.
Thankfully for Houser and her family, the cancer was caught right in time.
by Sarah Grano