- Country Ever After star Criscilla Anderson, 41, has been showing such inspiring strength and positivity throughout her battle with stage 4 colon cancer, but the reality star is also not afraid to get real about the down days of chemo.
- The hip hop dancer, who is married to country singer Coffey Anderson, has been traveling from Dallas to a Los Angeles hospital every few weeks for chemotherapy sessions.
- Leading experts tell SurvivorNet that stage 4 colon cancer can be managed, and there’s still a chance for cure.
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“Going downhill. See you in 4 days,” the mom of three wrote on her Instagram stories with a picture of herself at the hospital. “I hate this so much. It’s not fair.”
Criscilla has been traveling to Los Angeles every few weeks from her home in Texas for her treatments. She and her musician husband, Coffey Anderson, 42, whom she met in church and married one year later on Valentine’s Day in 2009, are renting while building their first family home together in Dallas. The country singer threw his wife a surprise 41st birthday party last week in their neighborhood with dozens of friends and a huge spread of crawfish. He serenaded his wife with tunes (and even carried her on his shoulders once the party really got going).
“Meet my amazing friends I’ve made here. 98% of these people live in my neighborhood. And they’re my friends,” the birthday girl wrote on her Instagram next to a huge outdoor group photo. “They have also all rallied together to pray for me, bring my family meals when I’m gone for chemo, take care of us. That’s how special this place is. Texas is all about love!”
Criscilla, who has danced in videos with Rihanna, Katy Perry and Britney Spears, has even been teaching dance while going through treatment, and just did a “bucket list” dance class leading the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders through some choreographed moves.
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Leaning on Faith
The couple have leaned on their faith throughout this trying time. They placed a bible and scattered some colorful scripture rocks etched with religious phrases into the dirt of their new home’s foundation, with their children, Ethan, 8, Emmarie, 6, and Everleigh, 4, lending a hand.
Criscilla insisted that her first rock be placed in the front entrance. It read, “For me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.” Coffey read another message out loud for their fans. “Stand firm in your faith, be courageous and be strong.”
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And that is exactly what his wife has been doing. Everyone has their down days while going through cancer, and in life in general, but you just have to pick yourself back up again. “Sometimes I’m like ‘God? Why did you choose me for this because it sucks,'” Criscilla told SurivorNet in a previous interview. “But if I can hold up to that, being inspiring to other people, then I know why He chose me.”
Treatment for Stage 4 Colon Cancer
Criscilla first started noticing symptoms in May 2018. She was doubled over with stomach pain.
“As a mom, you always feel like you don’t have the time to deal with things like this,” Anderson said. “But there came a point when I couldn’t ignore it anymore.”
She had an immediate colonoscopy, which revealed a blockage, and then wound up in the hospital for emergency surgery. Doctors removed two feet of her colon and she was diagnosed stage 3 colon cancer.
After a brief remission, she was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic colon cancer. “The cancer has spread throughout my para-aortic region and has begun growing up my back,” she reported via Instagram. Criscilla stopped chemotherapy treatment to try a holistic approach. The couple went to Spain for alternative treatments, and in April 2020, Anderson reported her tumors were shrinking. Although she was convinced that she would be healed by her next scan, that is sadly not what happened. Criscilla started on chemo again early this year.
Experts say that there are multiple treatment options available for patients with stage four disease, and there have been improvements made in survival.
“Stage 4 colorectal cancer means that the cancer has spread away from the colon to a distant part in the body or to another organ nearby,” Dr. Heather Yeo from Weill Cornell Medicine tells SurvivorNet. “Sometimes with different chemotherapy and surgical treatment, you can get patients to have complete cure. Their chance of survival’s lower than stage 3. But we still get cures even in stage 4 patients, which I think is really exciting.”
Criscilla is not sure how long she will be on chemo.
“I asked my doctor how long I will have to get chemo,” she told PEOPLE in a recent interview. “And he told me that I could either be on it for the rest of my life or I could just be on it until the cancer is no longer detected. And then, if it comes back, I go back on chemo until we knock it out again.”
Another leading expert explained to SurvivorNet that more patients have been surviving stage 4 colon cancer in recent years.
“When someone comes in with cancer that has spread outside the colon, it’s called stage 4 colon cancer or metastatic colon cancer,” Dr. Paul Oberstein from NYU Langone Perlmutter Cancer Center tells us. “The primary goal of therapy, and we discuss this in great detail with patients and their families, is to manage the cancer, is to try to control the cancer, to turn it into what we call a chronic disease, so to prevent it from growing, spreading, and causing problems.”
Dr. Oberstein says that options for treatment are complicated and unique to each person. There are different surgery, chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments depending on where the tumor is in the body and what the patient’s genetic profile is.
Hopefully Criscilla gets some positive scans in the near future. “There are ups and there are downs, there are the good scans and there are the bad scans — that is just the journey of cancer,” she said. “When you realize that, it’s easier.”