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Brianna Royal

Patients & Survivors Stage III Colon Cancer Missouri
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Brianna's story

I was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 29 years old on May 18, 2023.

I was at work when I got the call from my doctor confirming that the mass in my colon was cancerous, and I would need surgery.

I called my mom, who was diagnosed with stage III rectal cancer three months prior, and we cried together. We were now in this together.

In the beginning of the year, I was dealing with illness after illness. I felt like I couldn’t catch a break, and I needed something to give.

Because of my mom's diagnosis and my symptoms, I requested a GI specialist in hopes of getting answers. It was the middle of March when I called to schedule an appointment. July 17 was their earliest appointment.

With no other choice of something sooner, I took the appointment. A few weeks later I found myself in the ER with a chief complaint of abdominal pain. My CT confirmed inflammation of my sigmoid colon.

I told the doctor I had an appointment with a GI specialist, but it wasn’t until July. I guess he wanted answers as much as I did because when he came back into the room he handed my a phone number of a GI specialist. He told me to call in the morning, make an appointment, and that he already sent up my case. Sure enough, I was in with the doctor within two weeks.

Two days after my appointment, I got a colonoscopy which revealed the mass. Four days after my procedure I received the call confirming my diagnosis. June 7, I was in surgery.

Unfortunately, surgery wasn’t enough. Out of 28 lymph nodes, one came back positive, and now I would have to face chemo. Because of a vascular connection to the positive lymph node, it meant six months instead of three. I receive chemo infusions every two weeks.

Though this has been a rough journey so far, I’m thankful. I’m thankful for my doctors, my friends, my family, and all the support I’ve received during this time.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms included rectal bleeding or blood in stool, ongoing change in bowel habits, narrow stools, stomach cramps/bloating/fullness, fatigue, and unable to have a bowel movement (bowel obstruction) or constipation.

Side effects

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

Brianna's advice

Listen to your body. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Don’t be afraid to fight for yourself. It’s your body and you know it better than anyone.

What’s helped me through all of this is the support of my friends and family, and a good tv show! When you can, get up and take a walk, stay active, but also give yourself a break. You got this!

One thought on “Brianna Royal

  1. I was diagnosed at age 36, stage 3. No family history. Was in labor with my 4th child when they realized something was wrong. Scariest day of my life. I’m so sorry you have to go through this. I’m a 12 year stage 3 survivor! You’ve got this!!!!

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