December 8, 2016

Colon Cancer: Don’t Ignore The Symptoms

By Guest Blogger Valarie Schlosser, patient, advocate, volunteer, Colon Cancer Alliance

Have you ever had the rug pulled out from beneath you, causing you to fall hard, hitting your butt on the floor? Have you ever had a jar of marbles slip out of your hand, and hit the floor, rolling everywhere? That is how I felt when I was told, “There is a mass the size of a lemon in your colon and we believe it's cancer. We believe it's bleeding because you need a blood transfusion.” I was shocked!

Of course, I said no in the beginning. The ER doctor ordered a CT scan, and after seeing the results of the scan he called in an oncologist and a general surgeon. I was admitted to ICU, and put on the schedule for a colonoscopy the next morning, which was a Sunday. The colonoscopy team came to my ICU room to perform the procedure. I had no idea of the severity of what was going on and what was to come.

When I woke that night, the surgeon was standing next to my bed. He spoke in a direct, matter of fact, kind of way. "The mass is metastasized and you are having emergency surgery tomorrow. It is colon cancer."

That's when the rug was yanked from underneath me...and the jar of marbles fell to the floor—those were my thoughts running all over the place. The doctors decide it would be best to also do a full hysterectomy and remove my appendix during the emergency surgery.

How could this be happening? My brother lost the fight to colon cancer in 2010. I really didn't know much about colon cancer at that time, and it would have been a good time to learn.

The most important point that I would like to make is that I had all the symptoms, but chose to ignore them. I was too busy with life to listen to my body screaming out:

  • Blood in my stool
  • Super tired
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea, throwing up every morning

That Saturday, when I finally drove myself to the ER, it was because of the pain I was having in my stomach. It felt like labor pains. I knew something was really wrong. That's how my journey began.

I am in treatment now, and speaking with other cancer survivors gives me hope. I share my story to help others.

If you are experiencing symptoms and are not sure what to do, call the Colon Cancer Alliance Helpline at (877) 422-2030. They were there for me from the first phone call, providing information, connecting me with others and even offering financial support. My journey is not over yet!

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