National Colon Cancer Awareness Month is in March. The value of screening is something that doctors cannot stress enough. Although the proposal is 45 years old, it may be implemented sooner in particular circumstances.
“Thirty-one weeks pregnant on my husband’s birthday,” Amanda Webb learned she had stage 4 colon cancer. She had just turned 37.
“I was cared for, my baby was cared for. I started chemo the very next week. A chemo port was placed and I did three rounds of chemo to start off treatment in-patient while I was pregnant.”
“All I could think about is I want to be there for the baby. Thank goodness I responded well to treatment. The tumors shrunk with the chemo. I delivered my baby by c-section about three weeks early,” she added.
Levi, her son, is a healthy young man.
Cancer is undetectable with surgery and further chemotherapy. Still, Amanda needs a CT scan every three months.
But some colon cancers are more aggressive than others—case in point, Mariana Gantus-Wall was also pregnant and very young.
She would not have been qualified for a colonoscopy at that time, according to Jeanice Gantus, who recalled her sister being in excruciating agony at the time of her diagnosis at 37.
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“They made the decision to deliver the baby, clear the sepsis and remove the portion of her colon that was affected by the cancer,” according to Gantus.
Despite this, Mariana passed away a year after her original diagnosis.
Colon cancer has a lot of risk factors.
“We are exposed to a diet that is higher in sugar and higher in processed foods, a sedentary lifestyle and obesity are also factors,” outlined Dr. Katherine Van Loon, who is with the UCSF Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.
All of those, however, did not apply to Amanda and Mariana.
“She exercised, she ate very well, she took care of herself,” reveals Marina’s sister.
The second patient is a marathon runner named Amanda. She suggests that everyone watch for symptoms.
“They can’t be afraid to talk about their bowel movement, they can’t let doctors dismiss their symptoms, they need to know the symptoms,” she explained.
“Changes in bowel habits, blood in their stool, narrowing of their stools, unexplained anemia or iron deficiency,” added Dr. Van Loon.
Jamie Comer, another of her patients, was asymptomatic. A routine blood test increased liver enzyme levels.
Comer, who was diagnosed in 2016, said, “I was told that I had stage 4 colon cancer which had metastasized to my liver and I had 45 tumors on my left side and 12 tumors on my right side and that I would likely die in three to six months,” The advised age for a colonoscopy at the time was 50. She wasn’t even 47.
“The power of having children. I had an 8-year-old I did not have permission to go,” said Comer.
She requested that we videotape her chemotherapy treatment because she wants everyone to know the potential repercussions of skipping a test.
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For almost 4 years, Jason Martin has been a freelance writer for newspapers, journals, blogs, books, and online material. He covers the most recent news as well as many other topics.