arrow copy Created with Sketch. FightCRC Logo fcc-logo-light

Jessica Catlin

Patients & Survivors Stage III Rectal Cancer Illinois
Back to Champion Stories

Story: "I first went to see a doctor at age 38. I had been having blood in my stool off and on for several months. She told me it was likely an internal hemorrhoid, that I was too young for colon cancer, and it would likely go away on its own. She didn't even look at my bottom let alone order a test, and she sent me on my way. Six months later, the bleeding was still coming and going, so I went to see a different doctor. She also didn't think much of it, but I pressed her for a colonoscopy, using my family history card: My maternal grandmother died of rectal cancer. The bleeding got worse before I finally got in to see a gastroenterologist who performed my colonoscopy. Almost a full year after I first went to see a doctor, at age 39, just a few months before my 40th birthday, I was finally diagnosed with stage IIIb rectal cancer."

Advice: "This cancer is super preventable and curable — but only if you catch it early enough. The colonoscopy procedure itself is absolutely no big deal: You can't feel a thing, and you're mostly out like a light. The worst part of the prep is the stuff they make you drink, and I can tell you from experience, I would gladly choose gallons of colonoscopy prep over having radiation burns in my rectum (and trying to poop through said canal) ever again.

"Be demanding; be curious; be the expert of your own body. If I had not questioned the doctors and pressed for a colonoscopy, I would be dead. During treatment, if I was experiencing side effects, I let my care team know so they could do something about it. You don't have to suffer needlessly — there are many things they can do to mitigate the impact of chemo, radiation, and surgery. Most especially, ask about how to minimize damage to your pelvic floor and sexual function. I did not receive any advice during my treatment, and I learned afterwards there were things I could have been doing during treatment (e.g., dilators) that would have helped my long-term health."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Stories

Patient/Survivor Stage IV Rectal Cancer

Kristie Reimann

Side Effects, Fatigue, Rectal bleeding or blood in stool, Ongoing change in bowel habits, Narrow stools, Unable to have a bowel movement (bowel obstruction) or constipation, Stomach cramps/bloating/fullness
Patients & Survivors Stage III Rectal Cancer

Michael Holtz

Early-Age Onset
Patient/Survivor Stage III Colon Cancer

David Coulter

Treatments, Chemotherapy, Surgery