I’m a colorectal cancer survivor; I was diagnosed at 37 years old. It was in 2015, I was feeling a little pain in the summer of June or July. I visited my OBGYN because of a mild pelvic pain and no other symptoms. My OBGYN recommend a CT scan in October 2015, where it showed my transverse colon had inflammation. The radiologist wrote it off as colitis. My brother, who is an internal medicine doctor, told me that I didn’t have any symptoms of colitis, and asked me to go to the gastroenterologist and have it checked.
My mom and my brother are doctors and they connected me immediately with the corresponding doctors. My grandfather, on my mother’s side, had been diagnosed [with colon cancer] at the age of 85. He died because when he was diagnosed, he was so old there was nothing that could be done. [He] was the only family member, but the oncologist told me that the results of the biopsy said it was not a genetic factor. My cancer was a spontaneous polyp that grew inside me, and because of my age and the results, [my cancer] was not genetic.
I never thought I would be going through this. I had heard about colon cancer, but what I knew was that it was cancer for older people. When [my grandfather] was diagnosed, he was 85 years old; he was so old. He was always healthy, but at 85 it was hard. We understood it as a normal process because of the age. My experience told me this was something older people get.
The first year, I had a semi-annual colonoscopy, and now this is my third year, and I’m having annual colonoscopy, constant labs, and visits to my oncologist every three months. I’m about to have another PET scan. This is the third one, and if everything’s okay, I won’t have to do another PET scan for the moment, just regular checkups with my doctor.
I joined all the colon cancer groups [on Facebook]. Every time I see an important article on social media regarding young people getting colon cancer, I always share it with all my friends. And because my symptom was abdominal pain, I always tell them to go to their doctor. Maybe you don’t have anything, but you have to get yourself checked out. I’m trying to do more, that’s why I contacted Colon Cancer Coalition to share my story; it can be heard. And if you need that we speak out, somewhere, we can do it.
We have in Puerto Rico, a colon cancer run, the 5K, and we always participate in it. The one this year, because of Hurricane Maria, usually it’s at the end of March or the beginning of April, but it’s going to be in November. The organization needed more time to organize because of the issue of what the hurricane brought to Puerto Rico.
This changed my life, my family’s and our lifestyle. I‘m married with two small kids, 4 and 5 years old, to take care of. I always thought this only happened to people over 60, but this is real. Every day more young people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and a lot of them lose the battle because they ignored that this could happen to them. Preventive care should start earlier. I don’t want more people to die from a cancer that can be detected and removed from a polyp. This is a preventable cancer that, with proper screening, your life can be saved!!!LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUNG ONSET COLORECTAL CANCER RETURN TO FACES OF BLUE