I have learned to be proactive, not reactive. At 49, I was active both physically and mentally – running 5Ks and back in college again for a degree in paralegal studies. I was healthy and rarely even got colds.
At a young age, I had been told I was anemic and had uterine fibroids, so I was used to dealing with abdominal pain, back pain and a frequent need to urinate. I spoke to my gynecologist about these symptoms and we decided to have surgery to remove the fibroids she believed were causing the pain.
While waiting for a surgery date to be scheduled, I noticed I was having very heavy periods, and even blood in my stools. Sometimes I would be constipated, followed by loose stools. I was very tired and nauseous in the mornings, and experiencing gas and bloating. These symptoms I attributed to my body changing and having to adjust to a new normal for my age.
Finally, the pain of all these persistent symptoms was too great and I went to the Emergency Room. I had blood tests, a CT scan and a colonoscopy. The tests revealed a lemon-sized tumor in my colon, and that it was bleeding.
My symptoms weren’t caused by fibroids or getting older – they were caused by cancer. I was scheduled for emergency surgery the next day including appendix removal and full hysterectomy, with a follow-up plan of chemotherapy treatments.
A few months later I had my first PET Scan and discovered that the cancer had spread to my liver and bladder. Chemotherapy continued and treatment included complications that sent me back to the hospital. Finally over a year later I was declared NED (No Evidence of Disease), and feel very blessed to be telling my story.
Listen to your body. Know how important it is to go get screened, especially if you have an immediate family member with a colon cancer diagnosis. Be your own advocate and insist on a colonoscopy if you think something is wrong.
- abdominal pain
- back pain
- frequent urge to urinate
- heavy periods
- blood in stool
- loose stools
- experienced gas and bloating