On November 7, 2006, my mom was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. On June 19, 2010, my daughter's second birthday, we were told that there was nothing more that could be done to save my mom. After she began experiencing serious delusions and hallucinations, my family and I were forced to place my 48-year-old mother in a nursing home. She died three weeks later on September 15.
This was a time in our lives when my mom and I should have been spending time together sharing stories, laughing and playing with my daughter. She should have been able to appreciate the woman I was becoming while I appreciated the wonderful mentor I had always had, but never taken the time to appreciate. I should have been able to learn important life lessons from her that I could pass on to my daughter.
No one thought my mom would have colon cancer. We had no family history of it and didn't know what the symptoms were. For years, Mom had been experiencing painful and disruptive bowel symptoms, but she had dismissed it as a side effect of her medications. If she had known to get screened when she started having problems, she might have lived to see me get married, my daughter start school, my sister get engaged or travel with my dad before he retires in a few years. She might still be alive today if we had caught the cancer sooner.
I'm 24 years old, half the age my mom was when she died, and my first colonoscopy was scheduled in October. And guess what - no polyps and no cancer for me! It is a bit inconvenient to take time off of work and the prep is undoubtedly unpleasant, but the procedure itself takes place while you're under sedation. I'm young and it probably seems silly to many people for me to be worrying about getting screened at this age, but a bit of discomfort and inconvenience is much better than cancer.
My daughter will not lose her mother the way I lost mine. My husband will not be a widower like my dad. Colon cancer will not take me like it took my mom.
Screening is the number one way you can reduce your risk of colon cancer. Despite its high incidence, colon cancer is unique in that it is one of the most preventable and, if found early, most treatable forms of cancer. And the best part is, screening is easy! From colonoscopy to at-home stool tests, there's an option for everyone. If you're over 50, high risk or symptomatic, don't put it off. Talk to your doctor about getting checked. Learn more.
Don’t forget, the Colon Cancer Alliance serves as a source of information about colon health. If you have additional questions about screening or are in need of support, please contact our free Helpline at (877) 422-2030. We’re here to help!