I was traveling out of state for our friend’s wedding with my husband, young son, and 6-month-old daughter when I noticed a large amount of blood in my stool. I had bled a little bit from hemorrhoids in the past but this was different, it was a dark maroon color. It was still happening when I got home from our trip almost every time I went to the bathroom and continued for more than two weeks when I decided I needed to call the doctor. I definitely worried, “Am I being a hypochondriac?” Even so, two weeks was long enough to wait and I knew it was better to be safe than sorry. My doctor immediately referred me to a gastrointestinal (GI) specialist for a colonoscopy. Doctors removed 4 polyps, the largest of which turned out to be cancerous.
I was at home with my two children trying to wrap my head around the news without alarming them. It was a terrible feeling knowing I had cancer but not knowing what stage or how advanced it was.
I met with a surgeon right away but I didn’t feel comfortable with his advice. I sought a second opinion and was able to find a doctor who gave me much more detailed information about my treatment options so I could make the best choices that were right for me.
When I think back to those first warning signs, deep down I had a really bad feeling about that blood I saw. I acted quickly because I knew I needed answers and I wasn’t afraid to push for information. I am grateful that my cancer was identified at stage 1, and I so far don’t need chemotherapy or radiation.
My biggest piece of advice is to listen to your body. If a doctor tells you that you are too young for something, find a new doctor. A second opinion is so important. It’s your life and choosing the right physician is too important so don’t worry about hurting a doctor’s feelings or intelligence. It’s nothing personal to them but it is to you since your life is on the line, not theirs. Trust your own instincts, because you know your body better than anyone.
- blood in stool