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Faces of Blue: Anna Dahlgren

Faces of Blue: Anna Dahlgren

Around two and a half years ago, when I was 33, I was at work when I noticed a small amount of blood in my stool. Being a Medical Laboratory Technician really helped me to identify that it wasn’t normal. I spoke with a physician that same day. At first she was thinFaces of Blue: Ana Dahlgrenking I might have ulcerative colitis, hemorrhoids, or diverticulitis. Cancer wasn’t anything that was on our radar at that point because I didn’t have a family history of colon cancer.

I had a colonoscopy a week later and the doctor told me she found “a large polyp.” I still didn’t know at that point it could be cancerous. Three days later I got a call from my gastroenterologist that the polyp was cancerous and the genetic testing on the tissue was negative. She recommended that I have a colFaces of Blue: Ana Dahlgrenon resection to make sure all of it was removed during the colonoscopy.

I had surgery two weeks later where 18 inches of my colon and 20 lymph nodes were removed. I was very lucky, my cancer was stage I, so I didn’t need chemo. I have had a couple of precancerous polyps since then, so I was told I would need yearly colonoscopies indefinitely. Last fall I had a comprehensive blood genetic profile done. Everything was negative. My cancer was determined to be sporadic which is unusual for my age.

Keep fighting! There is a lot of support for you from survivors that are in all different stages. Don’t think you are alone. I had a hard time at first because I didn’t know how to find others to talk to. I thought I would be the only young person diagnosed with colon cancer within 1000 miles. A lot of people don’t want to discuss this type of cancer because of the stigma attached. Don’t hesitate to reach out. I have made lifelong connections that I will forever be grateful for.

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