How rest days saved my life...sort of.

bcf7683 Posts: 1,654 Member
For me, this week will go down in the books as one that will probably be life-changing. I apologize in advance for the long-winded post. But it’s worth it if I help at least one person with this…

So I’ll start at the beginning… Back in November, I had started noticing on my rest days that I was getting terrible stomach cramps, usually accompanied by bouts of diarrhea (sorry, TMI, but it’s part of the story). It worried me a little because I’ve been on the Depo shot for around 5 years now, so I get neither periods nor cramps anymore.
In early January, I hit my deductible for the year on my health insurance, so I figured “Hey, why not go get these cramps checked out since I don’t have to pay for it now”. Thank God I did.

Jump to early February. I had been through a myriad of tests with my regular physician and after not finding anything, she referred me to a Gastroenterologist. They started out with the normal blood tests, CT scans, etc. Still nothing. So last week, I was scheduled for my first colonoscopy at the ripe old age of 25 (yeah, I just turned 25 in December). Once the doctor was done with the procedure, she told me in the recovery room “I didn’t see anything alarming, I’m thinking you just have a simple case of IBS, especially since you’re just a baby. My youngest granddaughter is older than you!...But we’ll call you next week once everything comes back for sure.”

Fast forward to Monday of this week. I get a phone call from her office asking if I can come in that day at 4:30 to get my test results. I was sitting at work when I got the call and I hesitated to leave early on such short notice, once I expressed this to the nurse, she said calmly “It’s very urgent, you NEED to come in today.” Uh oh.
Once I get into the exam room, I see a bunch of images from my colonoscopy sitting on the doctor’s desk. I could tell something wasn’t right before she even explained them to me. Once she came into the room, she starts explaining the images to me with words like “dysplasia”, “irregular cells”, “rare condition”, and “colon resectioning” and then puts it all into English.

Holy hell. I am in Stage 0 colon cancer at the age of 25 and I’m on track to getting part of my colon removed in the next month.

We had a discussion where she explained that these types of cells are incredibly rare in someone my age, let alone with someone in great shape and NO history of colon problems in either side of my family. She also said how people normally never have symptoms of colon cancer until it’s formed into at least Stage I or Stage II cancers, which are harder to catch completely without radiation or chemotherapy. She’s amazed that I was so in tune with my body that I could tell something was wrong when most people don’t catch this type of thing until it’s too late.

Mind blown.

She believes that I only noticed it on my rest days because the digestive system works harder & faster on days where strenuous exercise takes place. The slow down in my digestive system allowed for my body to (somehow) detect that something wasn’t right.

I can’t help but think what would’ve happened to me if I hadn’t have been on a regular exercise schedule for the last 3 years, and hadn’t noticed this on my rest days and actually brought it up to my doctor. I could’ve written it off as a weird food allergy or just something annoying thing my body was doing on my off days.

So I’ll be traveling to the Cancer Center Monday morning to see my Oncologist (never thought I would say those words in my life) to discuss removing my stage 0 colon cancer and a sizeable portion of my colon at the age of 25.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about all of this yet, I feel like it’s still sinking in. It’s one of those things that you see on TV and think “Wow, that sucks.” There is a certain amount of anger and bitterness because I’ve been devoted to being as healthy as I can be for awhile now, and this still happens. You see people who treat their body like trash who never have health problems. It just doesn’t seem fair.

I’m not really sure what the moral of my story is (or how it will end). But I really want to stress the importance of listening to your own body and speaking up when you think something isn’t right. The doctors were hesitant to schedule a colonoscopy for me because of my age, but while meeting with my doctor she said that she will never hesitate to give someone under the age of 35 a colonoscopy ever again. So I guess that’s a plus.


  • FreshKrisKreash
    FreshKrisKreash Posts: 444 Member
    Wow. So sorry to hear that. Hope it all works out okay for you. :(
  • 1pandabear
    1pandabear Posts: 336 Member
    Sorry you are going through this, but very glad that you caught it in time!
  • GardenGirlie
    GardenGirlie Posts: 241 Member
    I cannot imagine all that you most be going through emotionally right now. Thank you for taking the time to share with all of us. I suspect that not only did you help many younger people who might someday see that same doctor, but I have no doubt that it is helpful to all of us here as well.

    I will be sending nothing but positive and healing thoughts your way. Hang in there and kick cancers butt!!!
  • emmy3111
    emmy3111 Posts: 486 Member
    Wow, that's scary... always interesting to hear when doctor's say someone is "too young" to have this-or-the-other wrong with them... glad you caught it early, and hope everything goes well with your surgery and recovery.
  • iAmErikaP
    iAmErikaP Posts: 16 Member
    Glad you listened to your body and got checked out! Good luck!
  • SephiraRose
    SephiraRose Posts: 775 Member
    Wow, very alarming. It's a good thing that you are in tune with your body. So glad for you that this was found early. Hope all works out well for you.
  • sloth3toes
    sloth3toes Posts: 2,208 Member
    Now I'm afraid of rest days. J/K :wink:

    From the 'tone' of your post.... you seem like you have the perfect attitude to deal with this. It's been caught early ( I did not know that cancer started at Stage 0 ) and you're already close to beating it.

  • astronomicals
    astronomicals Posts: 1,537 Member
    Glad you caught this. Cancer is a disgusting illness. All the pink ribbons and ticker tape are just a facade. Live with someone in treatment and it'll change you.
  • rwieber
    rwieber Posts: 188 Member
    Thank you for sharing! I hope the things to come will go smoothly and you will be healthy. Best wishes for an excellent outcome!!
  • smand2000
    smand2000 Posts: 88
    Nothing but love. Your youth and fitness should help your recovery. Positive thoughts, and a wakeup call for all of us to savor every moment ...
  • JennaNevada
    JennaNevada Posts: 25 Member
    I'm so, so glad you caught this early. My daughter's a cancer survivor (not colon but another type) and getting it found early was key to her treatment. I am sending you all the best, really.
  • bookworm_847
    bookworm_847 Posts: 1,909 Member
    Wow, that's great that you know your body so well and you were able to catch it early. I wish you all the best!
  • chunkybun
    chunkybun Posts: 180 Member
    Hey! I'm sorry to hear about your struggles, but your story really resonated with me as my dad went through something similar over Christmas. (although there is a family history in his case - so I'm likely to experience this too).

    He recovered so quickly from the surgery that it shocked us all. The vast improvements to medical technology have made this a much simpler procedure than in times past.

    All the best to you for a speedy recovery!
  • brewji
    brewji Posts: 752 Member
    Thank you for the post, my eyes are all watery now ><

    I know too many people that have had to fight this. I am so grateful you caught it early, and that you are taking a positive approach to it.

    All the best! We are all behind you :)
  • TR0berts
    TR0berts Posts: 7,739 Member
    If there's a silver lining, it's that you caught it early. Here's hoping things go smoothly from here on out. Get well.
  • craftywitch_63
    craftywitch_63 Posts: 829 Member
    Although I'm sorry this happened to you, I'm glad it was caught early. Your story makes me wonder how many 20-somethings are walking around with stage 0 colon cancer but because they aren't as in tune with their bodies, will not find out about it until they are in their 40s or 50s, when it's "okay" to order colonoscopies.

    Your story sort of reminds me of Jim Fixx. He was a famous marathon runner in the 70s and early 80s. He was in incredible shape when he died of a sudden heart attack at age 52. (When he first started running, he was 240 lbs and smoked 2 packs of cigs/day). Doctors concluded that he had a genetic predisposition to heart disease and that if he had not been in the excellent physical shape that he was, he would have died at least a decade earlier.

    I know you feel like your body has betrayed you, but it's just the opposite and I hope you see it this way. Your body was desperately sending you signals that something was wrong, and because you were paying attention, you have a chance at a long, healthy life.

    Good job for paying attention!! Chuck thinks so too!! :happy:


    Edited to add this: NEVER apologize for long posts with something as important as this!! :flowerforyou:
  • mactaffy84
    mactaffy84 Posts: 398 Member
    Good luck on Momday. I believe that there are many of us who will be wishing you the best. Stay strong!
  • yankeedownsouth
    yankeedownsouth Posts: 707 Member
    I'm so glad they caught this early and I wish you the best of luck. I was also told I was "too young" for cancer, but cancer is an a**hole and makes its own rules...
  • bcf7683
    bcf7683 Posts: 1,654 Member
    Thanks everyone :smile: Makes me feel a little better knowing that people out there are wishing the best!

    I'm not sure if the appointment yesterday was "good" or "bad". They didn't schedule surgery yet, there are MORE tests that they're doing to determine whether they want to remove it through a scope, partial colon removal, or total colon removal, depending on my odds of reoccurrence.
    They are biopsying more cells and then they're going to send me to a Genetic Counselor for testing to see if I was born with genes that are predisposed to cancer not only in my colon, but stomach, cervix, etc. If I do have these genes, odds are they'll remove my entire colon and put me through chemotherapy as a precaution.
    The doctor said that no matter the outcome of the biopsy, they're treating this as full-blown cancer since they won't know if it's moved into the muscle, lymph nodes, etc. until it's removed and they can test the entire monster at once.

    So I'm still just floating along waiting to hear more. Thanks for the well wishes everyone :flowerforyou:
  • sherisse69
    sherisse69 Posts: 796 Member
    Thank you for sharing your story! I will send you nothing but positive and healing energy! Wishing you the best of luck :)