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Amanda Webb

Patients & Survivors Stage IV Colon Cancer California
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Amanda's story

I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer at 31 weeks pregnant at the age of 36 on May 20, 2021, my husband's birthday. I was admitted to the hospital earlier that week as a result of an MRI that showed growths on my liver.

Earlier in the year a routine genetic screening test during pregnancy resulted in a high probability of the baby having a rare chromosome, Trisomy 13, that would likely not allow the baby to live longer than a week. A follow-up test of the amniotic fluid showed that the baby was fine. I was very fortunate to be at UCSF where they told me they wanted to piece together the puzzle and look into the false positive.

UCSF pointed out that cancer cells in moms can sometimes cause false positives in genetic screening tests during pregnancy. They considered my history of stage IA malignant melanoma and sent me to the melanoma clinic. The dermatologist recommended an MRI to err on the side of caution. When the MRI showed growths on my liver, I was quickly admitted for a colonoscopy, liver biopsy, CT scan, and ultrasounds.

I knew we were likely dealing with cancer, but I did not know in what capacity. My husband, Jon, was on the phone when the doctor gave me my stage IV diagnosis. Jon rushed to the hospital after the call, and we celebrated his birthday with cake in the hospital bed.

We also did a sex reveal of the baby that night in attempt to bring joy to the day. My nurse brought us a congratulatory card and blue knitted hat. We were having a boy. My high-risk OB told me before admitting me to the hospital, "This pregnancy might have saved your life."

I had a chemo port placed and started chemo the following week. The first three rounds were inpatient as I needed to be monitored while pregnant.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms included rectal bleeding or blood in stool, ongoing change in bowel habits, and narrow stools.

Side effects

Side effects included fatigue, bowel irregularities, chemo-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV), neuropathy, chemo brain, and distress or mental health issues/illness.

Amanda's advice

Talk to family and friends. Chances are if they have had a colonoscopy, they will be in agreement that it is not that bad. Know the facts, screening can prevent so much hardship for you and your family (consider the risks if you do not move forward with screening).

This is your journey. You are not a statistic. Talk to others that have been in similar situations. No one gets it like your cancer friends do. Learn how to advocate for yourself when it comes to navigating the health system. Be honest about side effects during treatment, there is a lot that can be done to manage them. Ask for what you need from family and friends. They are often willing to help, but do not know how.

Celebrate the wins and remember that while cancer might always be in the room, it doesn't always have a spot at the table.

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