Fox Anchor Is Diagnosed with Colon Cancer After Her Screening Was Canceled 3 Times Due to Pandemic
Lindy Thackston was finally diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer after three months, and “was just wondering how much time” she had left with her 4-year-old son.
Something was wrong in Lindy Thackston's body. The anchor of Fox 59 Morning News in Indianapolis was dealing with stomach cramps, bloody stools and lower back pain, and her doctors wanted her to get a colonoscopy. But after she scheduled the screening, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Thackston, 40, had been feeling increasingly fatigued in February 2020, and her husband, Chris, pointed out that something may be up, she told Today.
"We went on little family vacation last February and my husband made the comment, 'I think you're way too tired. More than you should be.' And I got really offended because I thought, 'Well, I get up at 2:30 in the morning,' " the mom to a 5-year-old son said.
But a trip to the doctor showed "signs of inflammation," and her doctors wanted her to get the colonoscopy.
"That got postponed three time because of COVID but my doctor just kept insisting that I get one," she said. "I credit her for saving my life because she kept pushing until she found someone who would give me one and he happened to be a colorectal cancer surgeon."
In May, after Thackston was finally able to get a colonoscopy, her doctors determined she had stage 3 colorectal cancer.
"When they were wheeling me out, I overheard a nurse say 'tumor,' " she said. "I turned to her and I said, 'They found a tumor?' And she said, 'Yes.' "
Suddenly, Thackston was a cancer patient in need of chemotherapy.
"It's just a weight on your shoulders that you can't even put into words. It was so hard to look at my son because I was just wondering how much time I had with him," she said. "Right then, cancer became a full-time job."
Thackston underwent 15 rounds of radition before she was set to start chemotherapy, but she had multiple complications — first a bowel blockage at the end of June, then she developed tachycardia, or a rapid heartbeat, in mid-July.
"I was in the hospital for 24 days and had emergency surgery, a bowel blockage, I lost three weeks of my memory," she said. "... I was in and out of the ER all summer with bowel blockages."
By the end of July, she had lost 40 lbs. from all the issues but was finally able to get a port for chemotherapy, and on Aug. 24 she was able to undergo surgery to remove the tumor, along with 8.2 in. of her colon and 41 lymph nodes.
The complications didn't end there though — Thackston needed surgery for internal bleeding, and after 10 rounds of chemotherapy she had to stop early because the side effects were too harsh for her body to handle. Then she had to get her gallbladder removed. But on April 12, she was able to ring the bell at the hospital signifying that she was cancer-free.
"You have a whole year of doing nothing but fighting the cancer, then all of the sudden you are done. You have survivor's guilt. I felt bad about ringing that bell and looking at everyone else still sitting there," she said. "Why did I make it? I don't know."
Now Thackston is encouraging people to seek out medical care and continue getting their regular screenings.
"The thing that's scary is that screenings dropped [about] 90% during the pandemic for colorectal cancer," she said. "That means when people do get screened, there are going to be a lot of people who are stage 4."
Thackston will officially make her return to the anchor desk on Wednesday.
"Thank you all for helping me get through the last year and for still helping as I try to transition back to life," she wrote on Instagram. "It's very overwhelming."
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This story originally appeared on people.com