Ken Adrian knows all too well that you’re never too young for colon cancer. Diagnosed right after his 40th birthday, Ken is now sharing his experience and educating others on his blog My Colon Cancer Journey. We had a chance to speak with Ken about life after diagnosis and why he started blogging.
When were you diagnosed with colon cancer?
I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer on August 19, 2013, but the story didn’t start there. It began in March, when I saw my family practitioner about stomach pains. After initial tests, I came back positive for H-Pylori, which caused an ulcer. I wasn’t surprised—I had been moving quickly my whole life and thriving on stress.
The pain increased, however, so I finally had an ultrasound at my doctor’s office. It revealed nothing in the colon, but did show three spots on my liver that the doctor dismissed as fat deposits due to weight loss. My blood still showed an ulcer and my cancer markers were nothing.
Finally, on August 14, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was cramping and not passing any food through my colon—I couldn’t take a bite or drink of anything. I drove myself to the doctor’s office and he immediately sent me for a scan. At this point, I was crying and vomiting and my stomach pain was at its peak. The doctor said there was a wet mass in the scan and I needed to get to the hospital right away (they already had me checked in). My kids were confused and it was also my oldest son’s birthday—I felt terrible for having this happen then.
The mass was biopsied after I had been in the hospital a few days undergoing additional tests. The surgeon came in as I was being prepped for surgery and told me I had cancer. I was asleep for the procedure soon after.
How are you today?
I’ve been through a roller coaster of emotions with my treatments. I underwent chemotherapy twice, a liver resection and a trial drug that eventually failed. I currently have tumors on my liver, pelvis and stomach lining and I’m getting ready for a clinical trial. In the meantime, I’m receiving radioactive liver spheres to help manage the tumors there. Additionally, I’m going to do external radiation for the tumors near the skin’s surface in the stomach lining.
Why did you want to start your blog?
I started my blog to have an intimate place to document what has been going on with my disease. I can also tell my story, through words and images, the way I want to tell it. The blog has helped me stay in touch with my own feelings—I really think about what is going on with me and my family as I type.
What advice would you give someone who was recently diagnosed?
I would tell anyone who’s been recently diagnosed to read as much as possible about treatment options and become your own medical advocate. Each doctor has their own style and may not be looking at all options. My initial decision to follow a treatment plan whole-heartedly was driven by my fear and not the research I could have done to prepare myself.
Also, document all the resources you have. I met so many people during my scared and confused phase that it was hard to remember what was available to me afterwards. Finally, if you don't “click” with your oncologist, it’s OK to find and interview others.
What’s next for you?
I will continue fighting and surviving!
To learn more about the Colon Cancer Alliance’s Never Too Young campaign and to read more stories of young survivors, visit www.nevertooyoung.org. Don’t forget, the Colon Cancer Alliance serves as a source of information about colon health. If you have additional questions about colon cancer screening or are in need of support, please contact our free Helpline at (877) 422-2030. We’re here to help.