In November 2019, Erin Soto – a 37-year-old mother of four – was given the devastating diagnosis of stage 3 colon cancer. Determined to continue living for herself and for her family, she combined the best of conventional and integrative medicine to defy the odds and she is currently in remission. Here is Erin’s healing story in her own words:
“In November of 2019, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer while troubleshooting what was believed to be digestive problems that I had been experiencing for several months. I immediately underwent surgery to remove a 2-inch tumor and six inches of my sigmoid colon, then did a year of grueling chemotherapy and cancer treatment. To complement what my conventional doctors were doing to treat my disease, I added Dr. Kelly Turner’s Radical Remission steps into my care plan to increase my odds of survival. I incorporated a plant-based diet, herbs and supplements, releasing suppressed emotions, following my intuition, deepening my spiritual connection, leaning on social support, identifying strong reasons for living, and taking control over my inner work to reclaim my health and heal from the inside out.
Did you know that March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month? Colorectal cancer is currently the third most common cause of cancer deaths in the United States? Sadly, it is also on the rise at alarming rates in younger adults between the ages of 18-35. Half of all new colon cancer diagnoses this year will be in adults under 66. An article from MD Anderson recently reported that if the current trends continue, by 2030 colon cancer cases are projected to increase by 90% in patients under age 35, and rectal cancer cases are expected to increase by 124% in this young patient age range. While often preventable with surveillance, young people are currently not screened for colon cancer and are often misdiagnosed or have their concerns dismissed. I was one of these young adults. An advanced stage 3 colon cancer diagnosis was the last thing I expected to receive at 37-years-old. I was living the average life of a busy, overly committed mom-of-four and wife when crisis and illness ravaged my body, stole my identity, and damaged or destroyed almost everything that gave my life meaning. In November of 2019, I underwent surgery to remove a 2-inch tumor and six inches of my sigmoid colon, then a year of grueling chemotherapy and cancer treatment.
After wrangling with tremendous grief, fear, and heartbreak, I discovered that the best way to find meaning again would be through embracing whatever life I had left. This would require traveling to new depths with myself. I had walked hard paths before and was intent on walking this one, too, while setting an example for others along the way. I set myself an aggressive goal. One bigger than “crushing cancer.” I was going to use this experience as an opportunity to get deeply present with my life, connected with my body, and engaged with the world. Even if I died I would have lived a truly meaningful life as the greatest version of myself, leaving a lasting legacy for my family, most especially in the eyes of my children.
Of course, my family was my greatest reason for living, and while cancer sucks, I also believed in my strength and capabilities. And so, I made a promise to them, and myself, that I was going to do everything in my power to survive. More importantly, I realized that I could do all of this despite the chaos surrounding me. In July 2020, shortly after my 11th round of chemotherapy and during my weakest state of health, I became one of the first cancer patients with coronavirus to be admitted to the hospital where I was treated. I was told it was a miracle that I survived.
I have since slowly regained my strength and have now been cancer-free for two years in remission. I am now committed to raising awareness of colon cancer in younger adults and helping the newly diagnosed through their treatment and recovery. Upon receiving my life-changing diagnosis, and throughout my treatment and recovery, I dedicated myself to making meaningful and sustainable changes to improve my physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. With my personal experiences in hand, I am now committed to helping others take charge of their health.
My hope is others might learn from my story. If we can encourage someone who is experiencing symptoms to ask their doctor about screening and help save one life – then it will have been worth it! During my time in the hospital, I made a promise that, if I were somehow to make it through this health catastrophe, I would one day tell my story and show how the most ordinary of people are capable of overcoming extraordinary hardship. I would write a book that others could use as a roadmap through the journey. They say to never take for granted the love your life gives you. I wanted to turn around and help the next patient in line.
The book I wrote about my journey – The Mother of All Fights – offers an uncensored glimpse into the often harrowing and sometimes shocking twists and turns of life experienced through a cancer warrior’s journey toward healing her mind, body, and soul. It is an unflinching, practical, inspirational, and ultimately uplifting story of survival and renewal in the face of a devastating health crisis.
My book gets deep. We’ll cover facing your greatest fear, processing profound sadness, and the need to grieve deeply over the loss of the life you thought you were supposed to live. Our goal is to learn how to wholeheartedly embrace each day making the most with the time you have left. Together, we will create art out of the ashes of trauma.
I describe the steps I took to live a better life while dealing with the devastating chaos on my own. I freely recount the challenging conversations held with my children; how I came to terms with uncertainty about the future; and how I ultimately learned to use the experience as an opportunity to come into alignment with myself healing not just cancer, but my life.
Offering readers struggling with illness or searching for peace in the wake of personal tragedy a path to find meaning in their darkest moments, The Mother of All Fights is both a deeply personal story and practical roadmap for thriving in the face of uncertainty and loss. I want you to know that you are not alone in the messy work of seeking meaning in your life, and I want for you to live yours wildly free and on purpose.
Thankfully, my family and I were able to survive our cancer catastrophe, and now I share about my hero’s journey, offering a fearless appraisal of what it means to feel powerless while juggling the intensity of family life. I invite you into my home and heart during this difficult time, emphasizing the significance of family, hope, and humor as keys to my recovery and leading a more satisfying life.
There’s an unequivocal lesson to life that I try to encourage others to learn. My ultimate goal is to make you want to jump out of your chair and feel more alive today than ever before. I want you to redefine previously held beliefs and concepts about how best to live wholeheartedly.
If you only get one chance to live in this big, beautiful world, wouldn’t you want to spend time exploring how to get more out of your life? Embracing it? Challenging it? Learning from it? Yep, me too.
There’s such an enchantment about following your dreams. There is a kind of magic in the mystery of not knowing what’s coming next. That’s the kind of adventure that I now live for. I hardly know what I’ll be doing tomorrow because I live for today — the only thing we’re all promised.
What you’ll come to notice, if you haven’t already, is that cancer can be a great teacher. When facing down our fragility, it teaches us so many lessons about what it means to truly live.
I want to share with you the lessons cancer has taught me so that you can notice the ones your life is trying to teach you. Some may match mine, some may differ, but we can take this journey together. We can learn together. We can create our best selves together. They often say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’m betting on stronger.
Whether you or a loved one are personally impacted by cancer or you simply want to seek inspiration from the miraculous story of a survivor whose lessons about life will support and empower you on your own – you are in the right place. The stories of survivors featured on the Radical Remission website and book gave me the inspiration I desperately needed offering me hope that I might chase the same results.
If you would like to read more about my personal journey, you can get a copy of The Mother of All Fights on Amazon or any online book retailer (note: it is available as a paperback, ebook, and audiobook).
Finally, regarding what may or may not have caused my cancer, I believe there can be an emotional component behind illness. I believe that, in my case, it was the chronic stress I personally experienced that was the root cause behind my disease. Learning to address this difficulty differently ultimately played a significant role in helping me heal from the inside out.
There are some who might say that my attributing what happened to me being connected to my emotional health is a dangerous assumption to make. They may say that my suggesting my mental and emotional stress had a role in causing the onset of my disease, and that then dealing with it differently had a role in restoring my health, is an unsubstantiated notion. I am not here trying to offer false hope that your belief and thoughts alone can heal such a dangerous disease. What I know for sure is this: it indeed holds tremendous power. It did, at least for me.”
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