Jessica Dilts, Stage IV Survivor/Patient
New Hudson, Michigan
One year prior to my diagnosis I started having symptoms. I went to the doctor and she said that because I did not have any family history and was incredibly healthy that the blood in my stool was from training for my half-marathon. She told me that sometimes runners will get blood in their stool, and she was sure I was fine. She ran blood work, said everything came back okay. Little did I know that blood work does not always detect if you have cancer. Fast forward a year later, my issues became worse, I went back to visit that same doctor and she finally agreed to do a colonoscopy.
When I woke up from the procedure she told me they found a tumor. They rushed me for a CT scan and there were spots on my liver and my lungs. My world came tumbling down, and then I felt like I was in a whirlwind trying to find the best doctors and best treatments for me. I went to MD Anderson for a second opinion. I finished the 12 rounds of hard chemo with little side effects, which amazed all my doctors.
So far every scan has showed that treatment is working. I started maintenance chemo in June 2016 and that is a piece of cake compared to the hard chemo. I still am working out and work a full-time job. I am trying to live the most normal life I can. I feel like cancer has opened my eyes and made me truly grateful for all the wonderful support from old and new friends. I definitely get scared at times, but then I remind myself that we all have an “expiration date” and nobody knows when that is, so you need to live life to the fullest while you can.
What One Million Strong means to Jessica
I want to help others, educate, and be there for others going through this. I want them to know they are not alone. I want to help change protocols for colonoscopies as more and more people under 50 are getting diagnosed with late stage colon cancer, because of insurance/medical practice reasons.
Be your own advocate. Listen to your body. Doctors are humans too and unfortunately they make mistakes. If you feel like something is wrong, keep pushing until you get what you need to help you feel better. Do not wait until it is too late.