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Jessica Acosta

Paciente/superviviente Cáncer de recto en estadio III California
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In February 2023, I got results from genetic testing that I was positive for Lynch syndrome PMS2. The counselor recommended that I get my first colonoscopy at 30.

In summer 2023, I began experiencing symptoms and felt that things were not right. I saw my primary in July to explain my symptoms. She thought it sounded like IBS but gave me a referral for a gastro. I saw the gastro in November: She also said it could be IBS, but I had a feeling that it could be more and asked for a baseline colonoscopy before the age of 30. She agreed due to my family history and Lynch syndrome diagnosis.

My symptoms were rectal bleeding or blood in stool, ongoing change in bowel habits, and unable to have a bowel movement (bowel obstruction) or constipation.

On January 5, 2024, at 29 years old, I went in for my colonoscopy and was given the news that they found a mass that was most likely cancer. I was still waking up from the anesthesia, so I could barely comprehend what she was telling me.

My wife was with me, and we were both in shock. I knew something was off, but it didn't make hearing the words any easier. The doctor called with the biopsy results on January 9, to confirm that it was cancer. She kept saying how it's a good thing we did this early.

This was my first lesson in advocating for me and my body. I received my first round of Jemperli on February 15 and will continue with treatment for the next six months.

Since the use of inmunoterapia is relatively new for patients with Lynch syndrome and colorectal cancer, I have found it challenging to find information on side effects and the experience overall. I'm hoping that by sharing my story, I will help people in the future that go through immunotherapy.

Tenía biomarcador testing my tumor. I would love to participate in a clinical trial if I was offered one.

My advice to someone who was afraid to seek medical advice or colorectal cancer screening is that you are your biggest advocate! No one knows your body like you do, so you're the best one to speak up for it. As someone who has anxiety, especially medical anxiety, I can relate to the feeling of being nervous or afraid to get results or talk about symptoms. But having answers gives you a clear path to healing and that has helped with my anxiety throughout this process.

I just started my journey, so I can't speak too much from experience, but take it one day at a time. Keep a food diary, and track your symptoms. I know writing this down can be a scary thought because it becomes even more real, but it's important to be able to track your progress and to know what foods bother you.

Most of all, stay positive and make plans for after you beat this! Appreciate the small victories and cherish the good days. Lean on your supporters and caregivers and ask for help!! You are strong – even on the tough days!

Something that all members of Congress need to know is that cancer is being diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s at a rapidly increasing rate. There needs to be a change in the recommended screening age and more resources available to the younger generations on how to help prevent and screen for colorectal cancer.

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