COLTS NECK, N.J. - Michele Battista has lived in Colts Neck for 25 years and she has quite a story to tell. More of a request during March - Colorectal Cancer Month.
Her message is to please get a colonoscopy - it can save your life. Here is her story.
She married Joe, a Colts Neck native whom she met in 8th grade at St James and was best friends with at Red Bank Catholic. They didn't start dating till 1986 and will be married 30 years this year. She volunteered through the years when their son Tom was in the Colts Neck schools system. She enjoyed being a Computer Parent, Soccer Team Mom, Religious Ed teacher at St Mary's, Band Parent through Cedar Dr and CNHS, and CNHS PTSO member. When her son went off to college, she found new volunteering opportunities with The Ashley Lauren Foundation when in Colts Neck and the Friends of the Library for which she is now President. She volunteered for many things. There was one thing she never volunteered for however - having cancer.
For Michele Battista, the event is seared in her memory. "I woke from my colonoscopy at 50 to the doctor saying “You have cancer.” I had no symptoms, how could this be? The doctor said I had the cancer for 5 to 10 years and the tumor was close to causing an obstruction which could land me in the E.R."
So began an incredible journey of a cancer patient and now a cancer survivor and on a mission. According to Battista, she quickly learned a lot of things:
- 1. Her surgery date, March 1st was the official start of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
- 2. That Colorectal Cancer is the #2 leading cause of cancer deaths in the US.
- 3. That every 3 minutes, someone is diagnosed with colorectal cancer and every 10 minutes someone dies from colorectal cancer.
- 4. That it is one of the most preventable cancers
Battista said, "The colonoscopy was easy compared to the surgery to remove a foot of colon, and 12 rounds of chemo where each lasted 48 hours. It set the stage for the rest of the year of fighting to recover from the side effects of chemo. Afterwards, I did the free Livestrong program at The Community YMCA in Red Bank to help recondition my muscles. I learned my body’s limits from fatigue and found the best treatment for neuropathy was acupuncture. I advocate with Colorectal Cancer Alliance, and Red Bank Gastro while obtaining proclamations from Colts Neck, Monmouth County and New Jersey to raise awareness. This is my 6 year cancerversary and I tell my story to motivate you to get a colonoscopy."
"After finishing chemo for Colon Cancer in 2012, I am an advocate for The Community YMCA's Livestrong program for the year that I was a member in Red Bank. Each year since diagnosis, I have had a story printed in some local media, Upenn and National Colon Cancer outlets hoping that I get others to be screened with my story. I also started volunteering with the now Colorectal Cancer Alliance (CCA) to raise awareness at events and as a Peer Buddy where you are matched with a colon cancer patient to answer their questions and provide encouragement during their journey. I became friends with Red Bank Gastroenterology Doctors, Nurses and Staff to raise awareness at local events and this will be my 6th year participating in the CCA's Jersey Shore Undy in Long Branch on July 14th with Team #RBGastro. I was an Empowering Today's Professional Lecturer helping people better search for a job for many years. I am a current member of the Colts Neck Business Association, and Seniors Club for 3 years, and the Woman's Club for 1 year. I am the secretary for Colts Neck's Architectural Review and Historical Preservation Committees for 2 years and work as an office admin for Lillian Burry at Colts Neck Realty for over 1 year.
Her journey of success is not measured by the cancer she beat, it is by the precious and important moments in her life. said Battista, "I am a proud 'Mom of Tom' who will be graduating with his PhD in Aerospace Engineering this Spring. I still remember his leaving Virginia Tech ahead of his Spring Break to be with me for my surgery 6 years ago March 1st. It was wonderful having him home that summer of chemo, where we switched roles of the child taking care of the parent. Tom participated in Virginia Tech's largest collegiate Relay For Life from when I was diagnosed. That 1st year he ranked 12th out of 5,800 participants for monies raised in my honor."
The love of a child and her family. A journey through darker days and into bright sunshine. Michele Battista of Colts Neck shares her story for TAPinto Holmdel and Colts Neck readers during March, National Colorectal Cancer Month. Thank you Michele.