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Emily Robinson: A Mantra to Keep Moving Forward

Emily Robinson

“For cancer or any kind of illness, if your body is telling you something, listen. Ask for that test because you need to know for sure.”

Emily Robinson
Colon Cancer, Rectal Cancer

Emily Robinson wears many hats. She’s a globe-trotting event coordinator, an artist, and, more recently, a cancer survivor.

Though she’s learned to handle whatever life throws her way, she never thought she’d experience cancer herself. She developed a mantra to stay focused on what counts after she was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at only 48 years old.

Finding an Answer

It started out small. In 2013, Emily told her primary care physician that she noticed blood in her stool. Her physician told her it was probably internal hemorrhoids. When the amount of blood in her stool increased a few months later, Emily saw another physician who again, pointed to internal hemorrhoids, but also recommended she undergo a colonoscopy. In 2014, a colonoscopy showed a mass, and a biopsy revealed it was colon cancer.

Emily underwent laparoscopic surgery to remove the tumor, as well as the local vicinity lymph nodes that cancer drains into. It was possible the cancer could have potentially spread to these lymph nodes, and after further testing, it was confirmed, resulting in a stage III colorectal cancer diagnosis.

Emily was referred to Lakshmi Balasubramanian, M.D., at Texas Oncology–Cedar Park, for oncological care. “Emily was considered to have a curable cancer and was treated with intent to cure,” said Dr. Balasubramanian. “However, since her cancer had spread regionally, she required chemotherapy after surgery to reduce her chance of recurrence and increase her chance of cure. She received six months of combination chemotherapy, with multiple combined drugs at a time administrated at each session, given every two weeks.”

‘I Got This’

“I call Dr. Balasubramanian ‘Superwoman,’” said Emily. “She never sugarcoated anything, but she was always optimistic. She’d tell me exactly what we were going to do and smile, telling me, ‘Emily, you’re going to be OK.’”

This positive mindset reminded Emily of something her mother used to say: “You’re borrowing trouble by thinking about something that could happen.” That’s when it clicked for Emily, and she focused on the mantra that would power her through her cancer journey – “I got this.”

“I thought to myself, ‘attitude is everything,’” recalled Emily. “I’m sick, I’m going to get better, and I’m going to move on. That’s it.”

Despite undergoing chemotherapy treatment, she didn’t slow down at work. In May 2014, she traveled to Sydney, Australia, for a work event, and even went jogging in her down time. “I’m fortunate to have felt so great the entire time I was receiving treatment. In that six-month span, I maybe missed one work trip and that was because of a scheduling conflict.”

Dr. Balasubramanian recognized Emily’s determination. “Despite the tribulations of diagnosis and side effects of treatment, Emily managed to enjoy her work and life to the fullest during and after treatment. She was always encouraging us to travel, explore, and enjoy life. Her cheerful personality makes us look forward to her visits to our clinic.”

Tests were conducted to determine if Emily’s cancer was genetic or due to lifestyle factors like diet, but no clear answer emerged.

“I was 48 when I was diagnosed, and maybe it would’ve been stage II if I’d had a colonoscopy when I first went to my doctor,” said Emily. “I told all my siblings to go get colonoscopies immediately, and I’d do the same to anyone who thinks something doesn’t feel right. Keep pushing.”

“Though there is still a small risk of recurrence that requires monitoring, Emily is now eight years out from diagnosis and remains without any evidence of recurrence,” said Dr. Balasubramanian. “She has a very good outlook.”

Recognizing Her Power

Emily’s journey with cancer taught her important lessons. She recognizes her power and puts aside anxieties about things that might not ever happen. She stopped worrying about what experiences cost and started focusing on her passion of “painting with light,” or long exposure photography.

In any endeavor, Emily knows she’s got this. After reading her story, she hopes others will speak up for themselves in the same way. “For cancer or any kind of illness, if your body is telling you something, listen. Ask for that test because you need to know for sure.”

The information included in this testimonial is based on one patient’s unique experience and is not intended to represent all patient outcomes or expectations.