When Stephanie Soria finds herself becoming stressed, sad or worried during her colon cancer treatment, she reaches into her bag and pulls out a stack of note cards. Each one has a different scripture passage that helps Stephanie find strength, hope and comfort: things that are essential to the 24-year-old patient.
"You have to find the stuff that helps. Find something that can give you hope and not look at all the scary things," Stephanie says.
Throughout her colon cancer treatment, Stephanie has leaned on her family, friends, fellow church members, her faith and music to help get through the tough times.
"It's helped me learn to accept the things that I can't change and take everything day by day," she says.
A colon cancer diagnosis
In March 2013, Stephanie started experiencing stomach pains. Thinking it was a virus, she went to see a doctor near her home just outside of Houston. The medical team began a colonoscopy, but the scope wouldn't even go through. Stephanie had stage four colon cancer with lung metastases.
Stephanie was shocked.
"I'm so young and seem so healthy," she says. "It was a huge surprise."
Because of her cancer's latent stage and her young age (most colon cancer patients are older than 50), Stephanie's doctors recommended that she come to MD Anderson for colon cancer treatment.
As a part of her treatment, she has undergone a surgery and chemotherapy.
"At first it was scary. MD Anderson is just so big," Stephanie says of her first trip to MD Anderson.
But once she met her medical team, led by Cathy Eng, M.D., associate professor of gastrointestinal medical oncology, her fears subsided.
A blessing in disguise
Since her colon cancer diagnosis, Stephanie has grown up.
"It's helped me mature a little bit more," she says. "Things that seemed so big before, you realize that's not important now. It's a blessing in disguise because I have learned and grown."
Before her cancer diagnosis Stephanie had always thought of herself as shy. But the night before her surgery she prayed for the strength to share her story in hopes of empowering other patients.
On March 22, 2014, exactly one year after she was diagnosed with colon cancer, Stephanie will attend the 9th annual S.C.O.P.E. Run at MD Anderson. The race promotes colon cancer screening and honors all individuals diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
"My whole goal is just to help others," she says.