By Collin Breaux | Twitter: @collin_breaux
There was a time when Erin Soto wasn’t sure if she would live to see another day.
Soto was diagnosed with colon cancer and underwent several rounds of chemotherapy—and then caught COVID-19 on top of that. She went into remission in December and now wants to share her story to encourage awareness of cancer, particularly with getting checked when symptoms pop up.
Soto’s symptoms included diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, fatigue, and anemia—signs she ignored for five months because she was busy. Those symptoms can be common and taken for granted, but Soto realizes they were dire warning signs, in retrospect.
“By the time you have these symptoms, it’s probably already at stage 3 or 4,” she said. “You’re advancing. Cancer and time are not something that go well together, so you need to go in right away.”
She has written a book about her experiences called Mother Fighter and is raising funds for publishing costs through Kickstarter. Profits and other funds associated with the book will be used to give care packages to local hospitals that treat cancer patients. Soto personally gives socks with inspirational slogans to cancer patients.
“When I discovered I was not a case of bad luck—the doctors said this is happening to so many people—I really wanted to use it to raise awareness of what the signs and symptoms are, how to prevent and how to screen and what others should be looking out for,” Soto said. “The good news is, colon cancer is treatable when caught early.”
Increasing numbers of young adults are having to handle parenting and work duties while dealing with cancer, Soto said.
“There’s help and there’s ways you can navigate that,” she said. “There’s steps you can take that I had to learn—out of an effort of survival—that really can contribute to recovery or even prevention.”
Soto, who lives in Rancho Mission Viejo and was previously a longtime resident of San Juan Capistrano, vowed to herself that she would write a book if she survived her experiences. She initially shared her story on social media, and now she is publicizing her experiences on a wider level.
“I’m sharing what I learned, because I feel like I have a responsibility to do so,” Soto said. “Immediately after getting my remission status—when I basically freed myself from living in the hospital like I have for the last year, and I had the time to write—I just sat down in 90 days and wrote therapeutically, I think, to bring purpose to the pain.”
Soto, who will soon turn 39 and is a mother of four, feels great now. She runs half marathons and regained her energy.
“I haven’t felt this good in years, and that’s surprising,” Soto said. “I’ve made a lot of lifestyle changes because of treatment—the way that we eat. We’re plant-based 80% of the time. I ate a lot of meat before. I was paleo.”
Soto emphasizes anyone going through cancer doesn’t have to do it alone, particularly parents.
“Our family went through this together, and we grew stronger through it, but it wasn’t easy,” Soto said.
Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other South Orange County news as the City Editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at email@example.com
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