Maria Libertad Montesinos DaSilva
May 8, 1937-May 8, 2016
In 2013, Libby received her results after a colonoscopy at age 76. She was actively working in New York City, traveling by bus and walking twenty blocks every day. Medically, she was only taking medication for elevated blood pressure. So it was unexpected to hear the result of cancer considering her generally healthy lifestyle.
Rewind: When Libby turned 50 it was recommended by her primary-care doctor that she receive a colonoscopy. She continued to disregard his suggestion year after year. At 76 years old, during her annual check up, she mentioned to the secretary on her way out that she had been having a minor pain on her left upper abdomen. She almost continued her way to the door until she was encouraged to go back to her patient room and inquire with her doctor, “just to be safe”. The doctor began scans and tests to rule out other common health issues. Results were negative until a CT scan revealed a tumorous mass within her abdomen. It was finally time to go in and take a look - a colonoscopy. Something she refused to do for so many years.
After this information, Libby began to think if she had any other symptoms that would prove the possibility of cancer to be true. “I guess I get full quick when I eat?” “I guess I’m not as hungry and get nauseous often?” She continued to reject the indications. The colonoscopy revealed the mass that had grown without her knowledge. A sample retrieved during the colonoscopy was sent to a lab for testing. This undetected large mass resulted in the diagnosis Stage 4 colon cancer.
A whirlwind of medical terms and treatments were thrown her way. She met with specialist after specialist finding the best fit to begin treatment. A port was placed surgically to receive chemotherapy with an infusion every other week. These sessions were all day events of sitting and waiting while hearing more terms she had never heard before. Afterward, she would go home with an infusion attachment for the next two days to continue treatment. During the term of her treatments, she resumed work and used it as her escape from the reality of this disease. She fought and fought, but the cancer fought back.
After two years, the colon cancer began resisting any treatment to the extent hospice became the final topic of discussion. The treatments were no longer effective and the cancer had spread. A once strong, stubborn, witty woman of principle had been brought down to a frail confused host to this merciless disease.
In honor of her brave fight and constant endurance, Libby’s Choice was formed to prevent another from making the choice to not receive a colonoscopy.