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Ann Gustafson

Patient/Survivor Stage III Colon Cancer Florida
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I was experiencing blood when I had bowel movements at 49 years old.

My doctor recommended a GI consult for a colonoscopy right away. When I woke up from my colonoscopy, I was told that I had a large tumor, most likely aggressive cancer. I was alone when I received the news.

My doctor referred me to a surgeon to have a colon resection. I also had chemotherapy.

I had biomarker testing done, and I have no genetic markers.

I was scared, more like terrified. Aren’t all newly diagnosed cancer patients?

Something I would like members of Congress to know about colorectal cancer patients' needs is

I was surprised I had a colon polyp. I had worked consistently with my nutrition and exercise to minimize my odds of cancer. And in my state of overwhelm, my surgeon calmly said, “Disease doesn’t follow the rules.”

He was right. We can do it “all right,” and disease can still get in and grow. But I do believe that my focus on nutrition and exercise helped my body fight alongside the chemo to come out stronger and healthier than whenI started. I ended up writing a book, Seeds Sown: A Walk of Faith with the Intention of Restoration.

Something I wish members of Congress knew about colorectal cancer patients needs is that we need to eat whole foods, exercise consistently and see our doctors consistently. Prevention is the best path. We each need to take responsibility.

My advice to all eat whole foods, exercise, sleep, and seek prevention.

I would advise someone who might be afraid to seek medical advice or colorectal cancer screening not to fear. Seek medical care for yearly exams and prevention screenings/testing. It is better to be diagnosed early, which is why I share my story.

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