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I noticed some bleeding that persisted for a few weeks in fall 2011. At some point, I must have mentioned it to my fiancé (now my husband) because I remember him asking if I was still bleeding and urging me to go to the doctor. I finally gave in and went to the gastroenterologist (GI), all the while telling my husband what a waste of time it was.
I left the gastroenterologist with an appointment for a colonoscopy. My doctor told me he'd never seen colon cancer in someone my age. I would be his youngest patient to receive such a diagnosis — a contest I really didn't want to win. I have no family history of colon cancer. Genetic testing was not revealing and, with exception of a brief history of smoking, I carry no risk factors. This can truly happen to anyone.
When I was told I had colon cancer, I remember trying to comprehend those words as if they were in another language. I kept trying to solve the puzzle and figure a way out of this situation. I wanted to run, to get away from danger. In the end, you can’t run from yourself; the only way out was through.
"My doctor told me he'd never seen colon cancer in someone my age. I would be his youngest patient to receive such a diagnosis — a contest I really didn't want to win."
Doctors told me my little party crasher (just one of the nicknames for my tumor, as it cancelled our destination wedding plans) had been plotting for at least 10 years. Although I didn't have any signs that I can recall, I can't help but wonder how my life would be different today had I just had a polyp removed, the obvious being that my husband and I would have had the wedding that we planned. More importantly, maybe I would not be experiencing the lingering effects of this disease.
I would love for the warning signs to be common knowledge for people of all ages. I honestly couldn't tell you if I had changes or signs prior to the bleeding that I experienced because it was never on my radar. I would love for young people to get regular physicals and openly discuss these things that are often viewed as taboo. We need to start talking about the poop!
To those recently diagnosed: It's definitely easier said than done, but try to take one day at a time, and give yourself permission to be a little selfish. When you want some time alone, say it; when you want to be surrounded by people, say it; when you need help, ask. Cancer affects more than just the patient or survivor, but we are at the center of it, living it, breathing it every minute. We don't get a break from ourselves and it’s so important to make this challenging time as bearable as possible.
Michele Davis, 32
Seven months in remission
Read Michele's full story and learn more about the international Never Too Young campaign at www.nevertooyoung.org.
The Colon Cancer Alliance’s mission is to knock colon cancer out of the top three cancer killers. This mission is being accomplished by championing prevention, funding cutting-edge research and providing the highest quality patient support services. Learn more at ccalliance.org.
Published March 3, 2014
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