Colorectal Cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death for men and women in the US.
A colorectal cancer diagnosis is scary.
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“My brother, Bradford, was in college living his best life two hours from home. He was 20 years old, active, healthy, ate well, and exercised everyday. We got a call from him one weekend stating he went to the hospital due to increased abdominal pain. He was treated for diverticulitis. Not being a complainer and fear of the unknown, that was a year before diagnosis.
The summer of 2018 he came home due to job changes and moved in with me. I noticed he was in the bathroom every few minutes. He was sleeping 18+ hours a day. We knew something was going on and I begged him to go to the doctor. I asked questions about his symptoms, but being his sister, it was hard to get real answers. One day he said that he felt like he had pressure in the rectum area. I assumed it could possibly be hemorrhoids. We tried creams, they did not help. I finally asked if there was any blood in his stool -- the answer was yes.
Being in the medical field, I knew something needed to be done as soon as possible. He had just started a new job and had no medical insurance. He refused to go without insurance, even though we were willing to pay if needed. I started working at an internal medicine office not far from our home and spoke with the PA about what was going on.
Finally, insurance went into place at the beginning of September and he came to the office. Labs were completed, a referral sent to the gastroenterologist, iron supplements sent due to hemoglobin being low, and we waited for the colonoscopy appointment. I took him to the appointment and the doctor came out to speak to me afterwards. I knew the look of concern on his face was not normal. He could not complete the procedure due to "some kind of mass" blocking the sigmoid. So our next visit was a highly recommended colorectal surgeon. He told us that it could be a number of things -- the worst being cancer.
A CT scan was completed. I pulled the results at work the day after and nearly fell to the floor. The findings were adenocarcinoma of the sigmoid. The surgeon never told us what it said. We proceeded with surgery a week later. My nerves were shot due to knowing what was to come. I never told our family. I kept it to myself. It seemed like days, but after four hours into the surgery we were told he had colorectal cancer. The mass was the size of a grapefruit. The total surgery time ended up being nine hours. Our mom was a wreck. His friends were devastated. We all reacted like anyone else would.
The diagnosis was stage IV colorectal cancer. There were no genetics involved. No family history.
Bradford still did not know. We waited until a few days later to allow the surgeon to tell him. He cried for the first time. Our mom reassured him we would all battle beside him and do everything we could to beat it. His only words were, 'I just don't want to die.'"
Advice: “Don't wait - Listen to your body when something is not normal and seek medical attention. If you are at a young age, research all your options. Just because there is not a family history of cancer, you could be the start of one.”
Holly’s brother was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer when he was 20 years old.
She lives in NC.
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