It all started Thanksgiving weekend of 2020.
Due to COVID restrictions, I wasn’t visiting family for the holidays so I was at home alone. The feeling of having to use the restroom came over me so off I went. It was a loose stool and when I was cleaning up I noticed the tissue was bright red. I looked in the toilet and there was so much blood I couldn’t see through the water.
This scared the hell out of me and I immediately went to the ER. They checked me out and ran some labs and came to the conclusion that I had internal hemorrhoids. They sent me on my way but recommended I get a colonoscopy. I was 39 at the time.
The colonoscopy was scheduled for November 30, 2020. When I woke up, the gastroenterologist told me they found a 5cm polyp in my rectosigmoid junction. They sent it off for pathology and it came back as cancerous. I spent the next few weeks going from various imaging centers for CT scans and MRIs. Around this time, I met my surgeon at the University of Florida Health. He explained to me that my imaging looked good and that we would get the ball rolling for surgery.
I underwent robot-assisted surgery on January 14, 2021 at UF Health in Jacksonville Florida. The surgery was a success and at the time my surgeon said everything looked clean and that he doubted the disease had spread and I was diagnosed with stage I colon cancer. I was in hospital for three days and was discharged to the care of my brother who stayed with me the first week of recovery. The surgeon called that week and told me that everything was clean and that I was a very lucky boy.
It’s been about five weeks since I’ve had the surgery now and I’ve been feeling much better. I visited an oncologist and he reiterated what the surgeon said – he suspects the cancer never made it to the wall of my colon and remained in the head or stalk of the polyp. We’re going to monitor with lab work and imaging, and I’ll have another colonoscopy in a year.
I’m not quite at 100% yet but I’m feeling much better. I’m able to do most of the things I could do before the surgery but I’m holding off on the gym and other high-impact hobbies for a little while longer.
I want to share my story because I’m only 39, and even though I work in biotech we still think of colon cancer as an old person’s disease. I want to make sure that people my age pay attention to what their bodies are telling them – if something seems off, get it checked out ASAP.